ACT solicitor struck off following 14 fraud offences
A Canberran solicitor has been struck off after he was found guilty of committing 14 fraud offenses and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
Canberra-based lawyer Stephen Raymond Stubbs has been prohibited from practising law after the ACT Supreme Court found him guilty for more than 14 counts of dishonestly obtaining property by deception. He was sentenced to three years and one month imprisonment for his offences and ordered to repay his deceits.
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This came after the criminal lawyer fraudulently accepted $25,620 in payments from client Alexander Duffy’s mother, on top of payments totalling $4,013 from the Legal Aid ACT office, after he told both parties he didn’t receive funds from the other.
The 64-year-old was found to have scammed both parties while defending Mr Duffy, who was accused of conspiracy to murder, in 2009.
Last year, The Canberra Times reported that Mr Stubbs approached Legal Aid complaining about the “incredible amount of work in this matter with no assistance at all by the way of additional funding”, saying Mr Duffy’s mother was unable to pay because her “financial circumstances precluded her from doing so”.
The court heard that Ms Duffy never received invoices for the payments she sent to Mr Stubbs’ personal account, payments she would not have sent if she knew of the Legal Aid grant.
The court also heard that in 2009, Mr Stubbs sent an email in which he told the Legal Aid Commission there was inadequate funding to represent Mr Duffy and that he required payment for out-of-pocket expenses.
Mr Stubbs was also found to have made false representations to the Law Society about a personal relationship with a client that pre-dated his retainer, according to The Canberra Times. In addition, he said that he’d acted for that client pro bono when the matter had been funded by Legal Aid.
The publication also noted that Mr Stubbs had consented to set aside a restraining order in the ACT Supreme Court, against the instructions of a client, and attempted to deter a witness in disciplinary proceedings against him.
Now, eight years on since the initial charges were laid against him, Mr Stubbs has been removed from the roll of lawyers after repeated requests from the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
According to the ABC, the matter went before the ACT Supreme Court, where Chief Justice Helen Murrell and Justices David Mossop and Berna Collier accepted the tribunal’s findings in a decision published on Friday.
The ABC said in their decision, the judges explained that the tribunal’s findings showed Mr Stubbs was not fit to be entrusted with the “important duties and grave responsibilities” of a legal practitioner.
“The defendant has repeatedly demonstrated serious dishonesty and a fundamental lack of integrity in his dealings with courts, clients, the Law Society, and a third party,” the court heard.
“He has not demonstrated insight, remorse or contrition in any of the numerous proceedings before the tribunal or this court.”