‘Without conscience’ solicitor struck off for defrauding friends
Topics: Regulation and compliance
A solicitor has been struck off after he deceived a friend into lending him money to pay his children’s school fees, under the pretence he would use it to resolve cashflow problems at his firm.
John Anthony Connolly, a non-practising solicitor admitted in 1997, approached a former colleague for a loan of £25,540 in September 2013, claiming that his law firm was suffering cashflow problems and that a client had issued bankruptcy proceedings against him.
But in reality he had not held a practising certificate for four years, and a few months earlier he had been made bankrupt following a petition by a trade creditor.
According to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, the real reason he wanted the money was to pay his children’s school fees.
Although Connolly told his friend that he would pay back the money at the end of the month with interest after his parents returned from holiday, the tribunal found that the money was never returned.
The following year he convinced a friend from university to lend him £1,000 after he said that he had been the victim of credit card fraud in South Africa.
He again said that his parents could not help as they were travelling, and said he would repay the loan on their return.
But the loan was never repaid and was used immediately to repay one of his family members.
According to the tribunal judgment, when the money was not returned his friend found out about the bankruptcy and made a complaint to the official receiver.
Connolly pleaded guilty to fraud at Liverpool and Knowsley Magistrates’ Court (pictured) in relation to the £25,540 loan, and was sentenced to five months in jail, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for his first offence.
For the £1,000 loan he was sentenced to one month’s imprisonment, suspended for two years to run consecutively to the first sentence. He was ordered to do another 150 hours of unpaid work.
The tribunal said it was concerned that the frauds had been perpetrated against Connolly’s personal friends, causing them ‘significant financial loss’.
It added: ‘The respondent had taken advantage of the individuals at the time without any conscience.’
Connolly was struck off and ordered to pay costs of £1,700.