A self-employed police station representative has been struck off for charging two law firms more than £4,000 for fictitious work. Dominic Ingle admitted to the Solicitors Regulation Authority that he submitted around 40 false and fraudulent invoices, for £100 each time, when business was slow in 2016.
Ingle said he had enjoyed an ‘exemplary’ career as a solicitor since 2001 but was also a functioning cocaine addict who had committed the frauds almost entirely to fund his habit.
In January 2017, he was convicted by North Cheshire Magistrates’ Court of two counts of dishonestly making false representation to make gain for himself. A month later he was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, and required to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work.
Sentencing remarks noted that Ingle had been using cocaine for 15 years but when the work started to ‘dry up’, his addiction took more money than he could possibly afford.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Ingle admitted to the SRA he was ‘ashamed at his disgraceful behaviour and was completely disgusted by himself’, and had let down his family, friends, colleagues and the legal profession. He claimed to have abstained from cocaine as he was trying to piece his life together.
The tribunal heard that Ingle submitted false claims for police station attendances that had not taken place, with two firms taken advantage of and suffering losses as a result.
The judgment said: ‘This was deliberate, planned and repeated conduct over a period of time. He had personally benefited from the fees he had received for work that he had not done and he had abused the trust placed in him by the two firms who had instructed him.’
A number of character references were submitted which spoke highly of Ingle and his ability as a solicitor, but the tribunal concluded his actions were so serious that public confidence required his removal from the roll. Ingle must also pay £1,000 in costs.