A FORMER solicitor killed himself a day before he faced court accused of embezzling more than £500,000 from clients - including more than £85,000 from the estates of four dead clients.

Graeme Herald, 57, was accused of stealing the cash deposited with him by his clients between October 2001 and October 2006.

It was alleged he took sums ranging between £2000 and £90,000 from 14 separate clients. In total, he was said to have embezzled £570,046.47 from his firm's clients.

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Prosecutors say the cash had been deposited with the firm by clients "in pursuance of their legal affairs".

Dundee Sheriff Court had earlier heard Mr Herald, who was a partner at Herald and Co Solicitors in Arbroath, was alleged to have "appropriated the sums of money without lawful authority".

Mr Herald, of Edinburgh, was accused of taking it "without proper accounting" and "for his own use and purpose". He had previously entered a not guilty plea to the embezzlement charge.

He was due back in court on Monday for a further pre-trial hearing - but prosecutors asked that the case not be called in court, meaning proceedings were at an end.

It emerged yesterday Mr Herald had taken his own life at home and was discovered in the early hours of Sunday.

A source said: "He obviously knew he was due back in court on Monday and he could have faced jail down the line. It's terribly sad but the pressure and embarrassment appears to have got to him and he has not been well for a while."

A police spokesman said: "There are no suspicious circumstance surrounding his death."