SOLICITOR Nicholas Cockcroft, who plundered his elderly mother’s savings, has been jailed for two years.

The 59-year-old, of Crofton near Marlborough, abused his position of holding lasting power of attorney to help himself to almost £100,000 belonging to Joan Cockcroft.

The once high-flying commercial lawyer’s career now lies in tatters after his fraud conviction.

Cockcroft took his mother’s savings, which had been meant to pay her care home fees in the later years of her life. But the money has all gone and the state has been left to pick up the tab.

Cockcroft insisted he was always going to pay back the money when his luck turned.

He had denied fraud, but, following a week-long trial at Swindon Crown Court, a jury took 45 minutes to convict him.

Richard Elliott, defending, said there were a number of people who had loaned him money and he hoped to repay them all.

The court heard he believed he was owed large amounts for work as a consultant and he was awaiting payment.

Mr Elliott said: “He is aware of the view of probation that he is a Walter Mitty character. You may think he is blanking things out of his mind.”

He said there had been no consequences to the actual victim of the offence, as his mother had remained where she was thanks to the charity of the care home.

The money Cockcroft took had not been spent on a luxurious lifestyle, he said, but on keeping afloat. Mr Elliott said the true value of what was taken was in the range of £65,000 to £70,000, rather than the £97,000 the Crown alleged he had.

“His attitude to money has changed. Once his debts are repaid, he wants to buy a small cottage by the sea,” he said.

Jailing him, Judge Tim Mousley QC said: “Over a period of months, between January 2011 and November 2012, you dishonestly used your mother’s only assets for your own purposes.

“Once her house in North Yorkshire had been sold in February 2011, the equity was in a sum of about £110,000 and it was invested in a bank account.

“Very soon after that, you began to use the money largely for your own purposes. By the end of 2011, or thereabouts, the money had virtually all been dissipated.

"One of the startling features about this – bearing in mind your defence that you were going to pay the money back – is that you have the ability to earn a reasonable amount, at least to make some contribution for the money you took.

“But you did not, as I understand it. Nothing has been repaid at all.”