Jail for Brisbane lawyer after $1.8m fraud

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A Brisbane lawyer who pleaded guilty to fraud has been sentenced to seven-and-a-half years for stealing about $1.8 million from clients.
Russell Biddle was sentenced at the Brisbane District Court on Wednesday for using money he took from the estates of clients to pay of his firm’s tax debt, the AAP reports.
“This is a major fall from grace,” Judge David Reid said, according to the report. “He's probably king of sticking his head in the sand.”
The lawyer is said to have taken more than $1.1 million from the estate of John and Carol Dawson who were killed along with four others in a plane crash in 2012 on the Sunshine coast.
The husband and wife, who were both 63 at the time, perished after a vintage biplane they were flying in crashed into bushland on 1 October 2012.
The beneficiary of the Dawson estate hired Biddle’s former Victoria Point law firm, Biddle Lawyers, to manage the estate proceeds. However, the beneficiary found at least three separate transactions linked to Biddle’s personal bank account, prompting her to report the lawyer to the authorities.
Furthermore, Biddle also took more than $500,000 from another client’s estate, the court heard. Biddle used the money to pay his firm’s $1.2 million tax liability and some personal expenses.
Biddle will be eligible for parole in November 2017, the AAP notes.

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