Harrigan in happier, award-winning times.

An award-winning solicitor has been jailed for three years for stealing almost £30,000 from an elderly woman.

Julie Harrigan was enjoying a meteoric rise as a senior solicitor at Collas Crill in Jersey. She was awarded the Jersey Law Society's Junior Lawyer of the Year in 2016, and the offshore firm promoted her to Head of Wills and Estates.

The star lawyer was appointed by the court to manage the financial affairs of a 76 year-old woman who was residing in a care home. But from October 2015 to September 2017 Harrigan took a light-fingered approach to the pensioner's account by making 46 transactions into her own personal account, totally almost £30k, it was reported by the Bailiwick Express.

Harrigan was also instructed to move £18,000 from a deceased person's estate to an animal shelter charity, but she transferred the money into the pensioner's account instead. 

The lawyer was rumbled when the Jersey tax department noticed suspicious activity in relation to the transactions. Collas Crill launched an investigation and dismissed Harrigan in January 2018. 

Harrigan went back to her native home of Ireland.  Police in Jersey started a criminal investigation and requested that Harrigan return to Jersey in March 2020, to face charges of fraud. However, Harrigan failed to do so at the time, and was only able to come back to Jersey in September this year, due to the pandemic. She was arrested and stood trial at court.   

Harrigan “jeopardised a future career for dishonest conduct seemingly motivated by greed" Matthew Maletroit for the prosecution told the court. The "breach of trust" was "at the top of the spectrum in terms of seriousness," said Maletroit.

Defence lawyer Rebecca Morley-Kirk said Harrigan's "personal life was falling apart" and she had become isolated from her family. Harrigan was also under considerable strain at Collas Crill - working as if she was a partner, despite only being a senior associate, the court heard.

Harrigan had failed to return to Jersey in March last year as she had "panicked because she was not yet ready to face the music," said Morley-Kirk.

Harrigan was remorseful and wanted to make amends, said her defence lawyer, and was willing to pay back the money she had stolen by cashing in personal contributions from her pension.

The court said it was "at a loss to understand" why Harrigan had offended in this way, as she had been earning £60,000 a year, and there had been no need for her to take the extra money. The court believed that Harrigan's remorse was genuine, but said there was "no reason or excuse" to justify her behaviour. 

The court sentenced Harrigan to three years in prison and ordered that she repay Collas Crill £28,250 in compensation.

A spokeswoman for Collas Crill told RollOnFriday, "As soon as the firm became aware of the situation, we notified all the relevant authorities and took all necessary internal steps to protect our clients, including a comprehensive internal review."

"We ensured that the affected client did not suffer any financial loss," said the spokeswoman. "We also made sure that all charities received the money that was bequeathed to them. Ms Harrigan's misconduct was linked with her role as Curator, a role appointed by the Royal Court."

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City 19 November 21 08:33

This sort of thing only serves to confirm what onshore lawyers think of offshore lawyers: a bunch of dodgy, second rate people.

Anon 19 November 21 08:44

Someone practising law in Jersey is hardly experiencing a “meteoric rise”. The Channel Islands are a professional graveyard.

Anonymous 19 November 21 08:49

"Harrigan was also under considerable strain at Collas Crill - working as if she was a partner, despite only being a senior associate, the court heard"

That's the experience of nearly all senior associates!

Also at 60k a year in Jersey, while it's low tax, that's hardly mind blowing wages.

Anonymous 19 November 21 11:19

Perhaps if Collas Crill raised salaries to something in the same universe as a market rate, their lawyers wouldn’t feel the need to pilfer quite so much? 

Beermonster 19 November 21 11:20

That's a bit odd about her salary given that NQ salaries in Jersey at the time were between £57-60k

anon 19 November 21 14:53

@City 08:33 - because onshore lawyers never do anything dodgy and they're all first rate.

The legal Marmot 19 November 21 21:19

Lots of professional snobbery being displayed here, but no one asking why she wasn't being supervised properly at partnership level.

Also do feel free to refuse offshore instructions if you don't think the quality of the work is up to your own astounding levels of intelligence! £60k is a lot of money to many people. Looking down on those who earn less than you is a large reason why a large majority of the population dislikes lawyers, whether they are dishonest or not.

@City 23 November 21 00:12

I would take being second rate than having your outlook on the world and on other people. Any day of the week and twice on a Sunday. 

Anonymous 23 November 21 19:42

Offshore wealth managers and their professional enablers steal from all of us, every day. The Panama Papers and the Pandora Papers show they are enabling bribery, corruption, fraud, embezzlement and tax evasion. It's not surprising if that's your daily work, it taints your own integrity.


Anon 24 November 21 08:57

Anonymous 23 November 21 19:42: yes and the sort of people who head offshore are those who have failed in their home jurisdictions. I am always amazed when dealing with them just how mediocre they are. They only way to keep them from damaging your case is to ensure you treat them as a post box: do all the drafting yourself and get London counsel to appear in court.

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