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Crooked Dundee lawyer defrauded client of nearly £3k in cheque scam

Ian Davidson targeted the grieving daughter of a late friend as he dealt with his estate.

Ian Davidson at Dundee Sheriff Court.
Ian Davidson at Dundee Sheriff Court.

A Dundee lawyer scammed a client out of almost £3,000 after getting her to make out a cheque in his name.

Ian Davidson defrauded Pauline Martin – the daughter of his late friend – after being sought out to wind-up her father’s estate.

Davidson, 62, of Clovis Duveau Drive, stood trial on Monday at Dundee Sheriff Court.

He was accused of having the cheque for £2,739.31 made out to himself instead of law firm W & AS Bruce, for whom he was working as a consultant at the time.

He was found guilty and branded a “liar” by the sheriff who rejected his version of events, deeming his explanation to be “ridiculous”.

He will be sentenced later.

Dodgy cheque scam

The trial heard that in the summer of 2017, Ms Martin, 59, contacted Davidson to wind-up her father Bernard’s estate and she later discovered a Nationwide ISA – jointly shared between her and her father.

She told the court: “He (Davidson) instructed me to arrange to get my dad’s ISA and make it out in his name and that took a few weeks.

“It was part of my dad’s estate.

“He told me I would have to go to Nationwide and get the cheque made out.

“I gave it to Mr Davidson. It was made out to Mr Davidson on his instructions.

“Mr Davidson said it shouldn’t have been made out in his name and I said he asked me to do that.

“He said we couldn’t tell anyone about this as we would both be in trouble because it would look like money laundering.”

Dundee Sheriff Court
Davidson stood trial at Dundee Sheriff Court.

Ms Martin said she offered to have the cheque changed but Davidson said that would “cause problems”.

John McLaughlin, defending, suggested in cross-examination his client had asked her to take the cheque back and have it made out to W & AS Bruce.

Ms Martin replied: “No, not at all.

“I said I would take it back and get it changed and he said not to tell anybody about the cheque.

“I would have had it changed if he told me to.

“I had only carried out what Mr Davidson instructed me to do.”

Caught after queries

In January 2019, Ms Martin contacted W & AS Bruce partner Peter McDevitt to voice her concern about the lack of receipt.

By this point, Davidson had left the firm.

Mr McDevitt said the allegations caused him a “great deal of concern” and would have been in clear breach of the Law Society of Scotland rules.

He wrote a detailed email asking Davidson for an explanation as a matter of urgency.

Bank of Scotland logo
The firm banked with Bank of Scotland and the cheque was made out to a Barclays account.

Davidson had been on holiday in Poland and said the accusations “were not all that they seemed”.

The court heard repeated attempts were made to get an answer from Davidson but the firm received nothing in response.

When asked if he had ever seen a cheque made out to a specific solicitor, Mr McDevitt said: “Never”.

W & AS Bruce used Bank of Scotland for its transactions with clients but the cheque in Davidson’s name was made out to a Barclays account.

Defence regrets

Giving evidence in his own defence, Davidson claimed he was “absolutely horrified” at being presented with the cheque.

Davidson said: “She (Ms Martin) told me she had gone to the bank to close an ISA, they started to ask questions and she was getting in an awful tizzy.

“There seemed to be some problem and she said ‘they could make it payable to the solicitor so I got it paid to you’.

“I was totally shocked.

Ian Davidson leaves Dundee Sheriff Court
Ian Davidson leaves Dundee Sheriff Court.

“Stupidly, after she was crying a bit – and I’ll regret this to the day I die – I said ‘I’ll bank the cheque and give you the cash’.

“I remember saying to the dad ‘I’ll look after her’.

“The daftest thing I’ve ever done in my life – I was just helping somebody out.”

‘Wrong, stupid and cost me my career’

Davidson said he did not benefit from the money and gave the cash directly to Ms Martin.

He said he reacted in “sheer horror” after being informed of the complaints in 2019 and the incident ruined his marriage, after sitting his wife down on holiday to tell her what had happened.

He claimed Ms Martin suffered from agoraphobia and mental health issues.

Prosecutor Lora Apostolova asked if he was aware taking the cheque would land him in trouble.

Davidson replied: “I knew it would be in breach of solicitors account rules but she was all over the place.

“I knew it was wrong, stupid and it cost me my career.”

When asked why he did not present an explanation to Mr McDevitt, Davidson said: “I kind of explained it in code – ‘it’s not all that it seems’ was me saying I did bank the cheque but I just didn’t put that in an email.”

Accused branded a ‘liar’ by sheriff

After finding Davidson guilty, Sheriff John Rafferty said: “In this case, I accepted Pauline Martin to be a wholly reliable witness.

“Her evidence regarding the Nationwide withdrawal money is supported by documentation.

“There’s clear evidence of money being put into your account which should never have gone there.

“There is no evidence of that money being extracted from your account and you tell the court that it wasn’t.

“I listened carefully to your evidence and my considered assessment of your evidence is you are a liar and you deliberately came to court to lie about an offence.

“Your explanation is ridiculous.

“I find no coherent explanation as to why you did not respond to the emails, other than you were cornered and you knew well the offences you committed.”

Davidson was convicted of inducing Ms Martin to pay him £2,739.31 between July 3 2017 and October 31 2018 at Woodside Terrace, Dundee.

He will return to court next month following the preparation of social work reports.

Struck-off for stealing from father’s estate

Davidson – now working for a property firm – was struck-off in 2022 after stealing money from his dead father’s estate.

He fell out with his brother after their mother almost lost her home when a mortgage was not paid.

He failed to inform the Bank of Scotland of his father’s death in May 2011 and was unable to account for more than £45,000 in withdrawals.

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