Pietermaritzburg – Former Durban attorney, Ian Stokes, who fled South Africa in 2000, was convicted of stealing more than R575 000 trust funds in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.His marathon trial took place in the Durban High Court and was moved to Pietermaritzburg for judgment and sentencing. Stokes abandoned his Umhlanga practice in September 2000 and fled the country after facing charge of theft of trust funds and fraud arising from his former Road Accident Fund business. He was extradited from the United States in 2004. Trial judge Esther Steyn said as a former attorney, Stokes knew that attorney’s trust funds were inviolate and that it was a criminal to steal from them. Defence Advocate Jimmy Howse applied for Stokes’ bail to be extended and said he had honoured his bail application for more than 12 years. However, prosecuting advocate Andre Ludick said Stokes had disregarded his heavily pregnant wife when fleeing the country. But judge Steyn agreed to his bail application being extended.