THE Herefordshire victim of a solicitor who stole almost £2million from his clients has lifted the lid on his experience in a new book.

The Goodwin family, who have farmed at Green Crize, near Hereford, for almost 80 years, saw Alan Crickmore not only as their solicitor and co-trustee of the farming business but as a trusted friend too.

But the Cheltenham-based fraudster, who was also the Gloucestershire coroner, stole a substantial amount from the family, as well as from other clients including a Polish war veteran.

Mr Crickmore was jailed for eight years in 2013 after admitting 24 counts of fraud. Southwark Crown Court was told he had used the cash to fund a lavish lifestyle which included exotic cruises, expensive restaurants and fine wines.

Now, Mr Goodwin has shared his family's experience in his book Crook In A Suit, which was ghost-written by Edinburgh-based Mark Fleming.

Mr Goodwin said: "My grandparents started the farming business in 1939 at the outbreak of the war when they moved to Hereford. It's been in the family ever since.

"In 2010 I had a call from the chief inspector of Gloucestershire Police asking if he could come and visit us. He said it was very urgent and he came across with a detective sergeant. He explained that Alan Crickmore's firm had been closed down and he was under investigation by the police for fraud and theft and we had had money stolen from us.

"We didn't have a clue at that stage. He had been stealing from clients' accounts and he was putting it back into other accounts to try to cover it up.

"Eventually, when they did an audit, they had to question what was going on and it all came to light. The police said I needed to get a solicitor quickly and I was told it would take four or five years to resolve the problem."

Litigation solicitors worked with Gloucestershire Police and the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) over four or five years to investigate the case. Fortunately, the Goodwins were fully compensated.

But Mr Goodwin said: "It was horrendous and a great time of worry and stress and it had a big bearing on my mother's health. She was very upset.

"Police kept us up to speed and all the professionals were brilliant. I can never thank or praise them enough. "After it ended, someone said 'you should write a book about this'. So I did some online research and found Mark Fleming who is based in Edinburgh. He led me through the whole thing. He fired me lots of questions by email and so I filled in the blank spaces. It's only a short book but we had to take our time until everything was sorted legally."

Mr Goodwin, who thanked all those who have helped or supported his family, said he wanted to get his story out, simply to show that this kind of thing does happen and also that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Crook in a Suit is available to buy on Amazon.