Co Down solicitor admits defrauding clients of up to £400,000

Elaine Early admitted 17 fraud charges
Elaine Early admitted 17 fraud charges

A Co Down solicitor who has pleaded guilty to defrauding her former clients of up to £400,000, was released on continuing bail until her sentencing next month.

As each of the 17 charges were put to Elaine Mark Early, of Killinchey Road, Comber, she replied, simply “guilty, Your Honour”.

However, one final charge of the theft of over £250,000 belonging to clients of her firm of Elaine Early Co Solicitors, was allowed “to remain on the books”.

Prosecution QC Laura Ievers said she had taken instructions and in light of Early’s guilty pleas, the charge should remain on the normal terms.

Defence QC John Kearney, who asked Judge Patricia Smyth for pre-sentence reports on his client, said he hoped to also provide a psychological report on her.

He added that dependent on that report, further medical reports may be sought.

Plea and sentence at Belfast Crown Court, when an application for confiscation against Early may also be made, has been fixed for November 12.

In all Early pleaded guilty to 12 charges of fraud by abuse of position and five of transferring of criminal property between September 2014 and February 2016.