Lowestoft businessman jailed for denying siblings’ inheritance

Ipswich Crown Court.

Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Archant

A Lowestoft businessman has been jailed after denying his siblings their share of his mother’s estate.

Laurence Sannick, former company director and owner of Roman Furniture, was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday to 28 months imprisonment.

The court was told Sannick, who appeared in suit and tie and was accompanied by his wife, spent his mother Miriam Sannick’s assets for his own use to invest into his business following her death in May 2013.

A £133,000 estate was to be shared between Sannick and his four sisters but caused a split in the family after accusing one of his sisters had taken funds while acting as principal carer for their mother, who had motor neurone disease.

At their mother’s funeral, Sannick said the money could be invested into his business, which David Wilson, prosecuting, said was initially taken in jest, but his sisters became more worried when it appeared the money was not coming to them.

Mr Wilson added one of Sannick’s sisters received £10,000 as an interim payment, but no other sister received any cash, nor were made aware of the transaction.

Despite putting the money into his business, he lost all the funds after it ceased trading.

Most Read

In total, Mr Wilson said a total of £78,000 had been lost from the estate.

When he was arrested in September 2015 he told officers when interviewed he believed prior to his mother’s death that siblings had taken money from her, but did not report it to police.

He added he was aiming to pay back the money but the court heard “matters spiralled” and ended up with business debts of around £100,000.

The court heard that Sannick said in hindsight he should not have used the money.

Victim statement reports from the siblings said Sannick’s actions meant they were not able to grieve their mother’s passing.

Defending, Ian James agreed there was an emotional element to the case but the money Sannick used had not already been given to his siblings and added: “this is not the same as stealing a pensioner’s life savings committing them to state support for the rest of their life.

Mr James said the investment of the estate was to make his business successful and that he was not living luxuriously from the proceeds and since his business closed down he was working two jobs for up to 60 hours a week at times.

Sentencing, judge Rupert Overbury said: “When your mother died you were trusted to ensure her estate was fairly managed and shared equally.”

He added Sannick had “cynically” and “maliciously” abused the trust given to him as executor and also said: “Around 75pc has been frittered away in an attempt to keep your business afloat.”

He also said Sannick had caused “enormous upset” as he sentenced him to 28 months imprisonment. He will be behind bars for half of the sentence before being released on license.