A barristers’ clerk stole more than £130,000 from the chambers of The Chase star Shaun Wallace – and spent £10,000 on dog training.
Mathew Kesbey, 48, “betrayed” colleagues and friends at a time when lawyers were struggling during the pandemic because jury trials were paused.
The London-based Great James Street Chambers counts professional quizzer Dr Shaun Wallace as one of the barristers on its books.
Alun Jones QC, head of the chambers, told Kesbey’s sentencing hearing he was a “Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character”.
He was unaware the senior clerk was siphoning off funds to fritter them away on “everyday and mundane expenses” including dog training, meals out, groceries and orders from Argos and Amazon.
Wood Green Crown Court, north London, heard Kesbey had 30 years’ experience and was taken on in March 2019 earning about £100,000 a year.
Within two months he was stealing money from the chambers’ bank accounts and continued to do so until the fraud was discovered by colleagues last September.
False invoices were submitted to suggest £90,000 was being used to pay tradesmen for refurbishments to the chambers – but no work was done and cash was routed to Kesbey.
He also paid himself and other staff “bonuses and gifts” of about £20,000, the court heard.
The alarm was finally raised to the chambers’ management committee, which insisted on seeing bank statements.
Kesbey, of Faversham, Kent, admitted one count of fraud by false representation.
Ross Cohen, defending, said Kesbey “lost his good sense and decency” after an acrimonious 2018 divorce that left him in debt.
But jailing him for three years and eight months, Judge John Dodd QC said: “You treated the chambers’ bank account as if it was effectively yours".
Barrister and Mastermind winner Shaun has been one of the six professional quizzers known as “chasers” on ITV’s The Chase since 2009.
Many contestants on the popular quiz show have given him a run for his money, but unlike Kesbey’s actions, that’s all in the name of entertainment.
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