A solicitor convicted of carrying out a 'dine and dash' at a Harvester restaurant has been struck off the roll. 

Kerry Ann Stevens, admitted in February 2016, was convicted of fraud at Suffolk Magistrates Court in March last year. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said the SRA relied on Stevens’ convictions as evidence of her guilt.

In February 2020, Stevens made a false representation by stating she would return to a Harvester restaurant, in Rayleigh, Essex, to pay her £60.91 bill, but did not. In January 2021, she made a false representation that she had paid for a £43.47 takeaway when she had not.

The SDT judgment said: ‘During the period in which the conduct occurred, she was a solicitor practising criminal law, though not working at a regulated entity on the dates of the offences.’

Harvester restaurant

Stevens did not pay a £60.91 bill at Harvester

Source: Alamy

Stevens was fined £440, ordered to pay £100 compensation, £775 costs and a £88 victim surcharge for the first offence and was fined a further £440 and ordered to pay £100 compensation for the second fraud offence. Her appeal was dismissed in July 2023.

The judgment said Stevens’ motivation was ‘personal financial gain’ and described the incidents as ‘premeditated and deliberate’. It added that the ‘trust and confidence of the public was seriously diminished when a solicitor committed offences of dishonesty’.

It added: ‘There was obvious harm caused to the profession by a solicitor committing criminal offences, particularly when it was for financial gain. In this case, there had been loss caused to the Harvester restaurant and to the delivery driver from the Essex Grill who effectively had to pay for Ms Stevens’ meal.

‘The tribunal further noted that Ms Stevens’ area of practise was criminal law. Ms Stevens would have therefore been in no doubt whatsoever that she was committing criminal offences on each occasion.'

Striking off Stevens, the tribunal said it was ‘the only appropriate sanction’.

Stevens, who did not attend the hearing or engage with the SDT, was struck off and ordered to pay £4,489 in costs.