A solicitor convicted of defauding a local authority by tampering with a parking pass has agreed he should be struck off the roll of solicitors.
Steven Robert Barker, a former in-house solicitor with insurance firm Ageas (UK) Ltd, had confessed to four offences of dishonestly obtaining services and one offence of making articles for use in fraud.
All allegations arose from the fraudulent misuse of a parking permit which deprived Portsmouth City Council of several hundred pounds. Local media reported at the time of his conviction in September 2016 that Barker had used a parking pass with a forged expiry date before taking the ferry each day to the Isle of Wight.
Barker, 26, had been admitted as a solicitor only in February 2016 but lost his job in the same month as his conviction. He was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 24 months, and ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid work.
In sentencing, His Honour Judge Pearson accepted that Barker may have been suffering from stress and financial problems at the time he committed the offences, and he was ashamed of his behaviour. But he added that these acts were ‘not just a single act of madness. They carried on over a period of some time, both with the initial alteration to the parking permit, then you tried to lie your way out repeatedly when you were challenged and there was some hesitation in accepting the full dishonesty of what you did’.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Barker and the Solicitors Regulation Authority had reached a joint outcome for a strike-off. They also agreed he should pay costs of £1,142.
Barker had said that he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, had cooperated with the SRA investigation and had been suffering from stress at the time of the start of the offences.
The tribunal judgment added: ‘[Barker] knew or ought reasonably to have known that [his conduct] was in material breach of obligations to protect the public and the reputation of the profession… [he] lacked experience and made frank admissions but only after he had been found out.’