More on the crooked ex solicitor & politician, Ian Catto, emerges from the Edinburgh Evening News newspaper, with the victim, and plenty commenters on the article, calling for a significant jail term for Mr Catto.
We at Injustice Scotland also hope for a long jail term for Mr Catto - who preyed on a disabled person to fund his lifestyle - a dirty low trick indeed.
Read on for the article as well as some comments from posters, and our very own Peter Cherbi too, at :http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=1253532006
'He abused the trust I put in him'
MICHAEL BLACKLEY (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DISABLED Francis Fleming trusted Iain Catto with his life. Unable to look after himself after suffering serious brain injuries following a hammer attack in 1968, the 59-year-old relied on others to help him with the kind of day-to-day tasks most people take for granted.
But Catto, a crooked former solicitor, broke that trust and stole thousands of pounds.
Today, speaking from his Craigentinny home, Mr Fleming said he hoped that the man he once regarded as his best friend would go to jail for "as long as possible".
Mr Fleming trusted Catto implicitly and had no hesitation in giving him power of attorney and even a key to his home.
Catto had been a solicitor at an Edinburgh law firm Mr Fleming had been using to help him with his financial affairs following the death of his father.
But scheming Catto, a former Tory regional councillor who was once tipped to lead the group in the Lothians, tricked him.
Having taken over power of attorney for Mr Fleming in 1997, he left his legal firm in 2002.
He became a full-time best friend to Mr Fleming, taking him shopping, out for coffee and even on holidays. But the spending did not stop when Mr Fleming was not around, as Catto would splash out thousands of pounds on luxuries for himself behind his back.
On Tuesday, Catto, 41, of Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, admitted in Edinburgh Sheriff Court that in three years he had stolen £70,000 from Mr Fleming to pay for airline tickets, hotel rooms, meals in restaurants, £300 worth of goods from Oddbins, and a Leeds United season ticket. On occasions he was withdrawing as much as £15,000 from Mr Fleming's accounts.
When the truth finally came out, Mr Fleming, who lives in Craigentinny Road, was devastated. He said: "I trusted him better than my brother. I thought all the advice he gave me was for my own good - I didn't realise that he was doing me out of all I had.
"I gave him the run of everything. He'd even come into the house and do what he said was his papers, and make himself a coffee and watch TV with me. It really was just like having a brother around.
"He'd take me shopping, cook some dinner. He'd be with me all the time, I'd just phone him and he'd be round. It was great having someone like that, someone that seemed to look after me. Now I know I've been a proper clown. I'm able to see it myself now that I know everything, but I didn't suspect it at all at the time - I was well and truly conned.
"I thought I had good friends just after the accident but I seemed to just have been deserted. When my dad died I needed someone and now it looks like this guy knew that. I was vulnerable and he made a clown of me."
Catto targeted Mr Fleming because he knew there was no-one around to stop him. When he was attacked by his brother-in-law with a hammer in 1968, the incident left him in a coma for nearly a month, and led to divorce from his wife and to losing contact with his son, Frank MacLennan.
Mr Fleming received a large criminal injuries payment, but was left partially paralysed, had memory problems and couldn't work.
Soon after his father's death, Mr Fleming decided he wanted to be reunited with his only son, but Catto tried to talk him out of it.
"Why would you want to see him after all this time, he said. He won't want to know you. But I said I wanted to know how he was getting on, I wanted to find my son," Mr Fleming said. He went to the Salvation Army, which runs a family-tracing service, and managed to get back in touch.
Father and son finally met again in 2003 - a reunion which turned out to be bad news for Catto.
Mr MacLennan, 42, and his wife Wendy, 31, moved in with Mr Fleming for nearly a year.
Initially, they befriended Mr Catto but became suspicious when he tried to help them buy a home in Spain during a holiday.
But it was only when Mr MacLennan spotted Catto taking blank cheques out of his father's cheque book that he realised what had been going on. He started looking through bank and Visa card statements which showed how huge overdrafts had been run up. Mr MacLennan, who now lives in Wallyford, said: "We had no idea of the extent of it until we got the power of attorney turned round and we ordered a year's worth of statements.
"The last we saw of him was December last year. He knew we were on to him and he seems to have kept away because of that."
In February 2006, the bank statements and accounts were passed on to police and an investigation into the fraud began, which culminated in the court case earlier this week.
Catto pleaded guilty to stealing the money between December 2002 and December 2004.
Sentence was deferred for background reports. Mr Fleming said that he hopes Catto receives the strongest sentence possible.
"It's not enough to just get money back from him," he said. "I've lost everything - the money I have had over the years could have made thousands. He's made a business out of me. I want the maximum sentence thrown at him. He's got to go to jail and I want him to be there as long as possible.
"He's made a mug of me, he's stolen from me and he's abused the trust I had in him.
"I don't think he would have stopped. I think he wanted to bleed me dry and get my will.
I hope he gets what he deserves."
RISE AND FALL OF ONE-TIME STAR OF TORY PARTY
IAIN CATTO was once a rising political star in the Lothians, and during his time as councillor for Prestonfield and Mayfield he was even seen as a potential future leader of the regional Tory party.
He served on Lothian Regional Council between 1990 and 1994, during which time he was promoted to the role of transport spokesman for the Conservatives.
Having lost his seat in 1994, he returned to law full-time, although he continued to be a member of the Tory Party.
He came off the Scottish Solicitors' Roll of his own choice in September 2001.
The Law Society says it expects to receive details on the case from the Criminal Records Office and will then decide what action to take.
* Fraud, embezzling and financial crime http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=946
* Legal Issues http://business.scotsman.com/topics.cfm?tid=859
Comments from the Scotsman website :
1. senga / 12:48pm 25 Aug 2006
Ok - this guy is a crook a thief and altogether a real nutcase barsteward who deserves to go to jail for a very long time. The law soc will sanction him as well as the courts. Wonder what would happen if he was a plumber? Would his professional body do soemthing to ensure that he'd never rip off former clients ever again? Doubt it.
In future could the press please headline every criminal story by providing the public with the accused / guilty party's current or former occupation details and not just advise us when he / she was or is a solicitor ?
Then we could compare the figures after a while and figure out which profession / walk of life has the most crooks affiliated to it. I'd reckon that estate agents and builders, possibly car sales men and plumbers, even bank managers, may just top it.
2. GEORGE, Spain / 2:58pm 25 Aug 2006
I take it that Senga has had a problem with plumbers.
The guy is a crook and should be jailed for the maximum time
3. Senga / 3:07pm 25 Aug 2006
Aye he made a real mess of my waterworks ;-D
Poor Mr Fleming. I'd make the rotten Catto beggar work hard labour 60 hours a week and then give all the earnings back to him.
4. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes, Polepes Rbelpic of Scatolnd / 4:41pm 25 Aug 2006
Catto owns multiple properties in the city. It was hardly a case of taking the money through need, just taking it because he could.
What a scumbag, but as a former lawyer and politician does this really come as a surprise?
I wonder how long it will take to realise the forthcoming error in procedure that will permit his early release!?
5. Alex. / 4:47pm 25 Aug 2006
If he goes in front of the same Sheriff who presided over the trial of Angus Cook (former Dundee FC owner/chairman and well known conman), who defrauded many of sums totaling many tens of thousands of pounds, he won't go to jail. The Sheriff couldn't see the point in jailing him! He was given a fine instead that, in all probability, does not cover the costs of the legal process. Who says white collar crime doesn't pay? Hope the Procurator Fiscal appeals the sentence in that case. Cook, I read in the press, is going round Dundee whistleing the great escape.
6. Peter Cherbi, Edinburgh / 6:35pm 25 Aug 2006
Since Catto came off the Solicitors roll in 2001, it's hard to see what action the Law Society could now take, but if the beginning of Catto's service to Mr Fleming was tied to the law firm Catto worked for, there should be full compensation claim against that firm.
It would be interesting to hear what steps have been taken by Mr Fleming to recover his loss from this crime and what assistance has been offered to him in this respect.
The Guarantee Fund of the Law Society of Scotland should come into play here if Catto was a solicitor at the time ..but since he was not, there is a convenient arguement as a get-out against giving compensation from the Guarantee Fund.
A closer inspection of why Catto came off the Solicitors roll "of his own choice" may reveal futher material relevant to what happened in this case.
Speaking for myself,I sympathise with Mr Fleming a lot, as my own mother experienced almost the same con as what happened to Mr Fleming, albeit with a member of another profession (an accountant), and it only stopped when myself and other family members intervened.
I fully support Mr Fleming's call for Catto to go to jail as long as possible - and the same for anyone else who preys on their clients.
7. Rod, Rutland Chambers, Edinburgh / 6:59pm 25 Aug 2006
My considered advice is that ex Solicitor Catto should be punished to the full limit of the criminal process in Scotland. Sharp practice among solicitors MUST be stamped out if the public are to have confidence in the legal profession.
That'll be 250 guineas please. Make your cheques payable to me in the name of Mr Smith, LLB, c/o Cayman National Bank, Grand Cayman Island. Failure to do so could lead to a distressing communication from either myself or one of m'learned colleagues.
8. ian, high court / 7:19pm 25 Aug 2006
This will be interesting. So many previous cases of the legal fraternity "looking after their own". Guaranteed if a guy from a council estate stole that amount he'd be banged up for years. What's the betting Catto's pals manipulate an extremely light sentence eg probation, community service. If we are to truly beleive in an unbiased legal system this thief should get at least three years
9. frank, edinburgh / 7:23pm 25 Aug 2006
Mr Catto was put in a position of trust and he abused that trust in the most deceitful and disgusting way.
As a former solicitor and mp he should be made an example of. A custodial sentence is the only fitting punishment for Mr Catto, anything else will be a failure on the part of the judicial system in Scotland.
Crimes of this nature should not be tolerated by the courts and should send out a clear message to all other fraudsters regardless of public standing.
10. Sed quis custodiet ipsos custodes, Polepes Rbelpic of Scatolnd / 12:25am 26 Aug 2006
FAO 5. Alex.
Dundee sees to have a problem with people like that!