A former legal secretary who stole a client’s collection of service medals as well as jewellery worth £10,000 has been barred from working with the profession. 

Ebony Thomas was convicted of theft on two separate occasions, receiving a suspended jail sentence each time and being ordered to pay £500 compensation to the victim.

Thomas, an employee of Hartlepool firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine LLP, was convicted in August 2021 of stealing collectable medals being held by the firm, then in December 2021 was convicted of stealing the jewellery.

She had worked at the firm since 2017 and was dismissed for gross misconduct in March 2021.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority issued a section 43 order against Thomas, saying it would be undesirable for her to work in the profession again. If she ever wants to be employed by a regulated firm she must first seek SRA permission. Thomas was also ordered to pay £600 costs.

At the time of her first court case the stolen medals were worth £24,000 and Thomas, then 23, had taken them to pay off a gambling debt, the Hartlepool Mail reported. She had advertised them on Facebook and sold some to a collector in Liverpool before handing herself into police after reportedly feeling guilty.

The victim, then 74, had made inquiries about the medals after a friend spotted that they were being advertised online.

In a statement, the firm said: 'We remain shocked and disappointed that a member of staff abused our trust and that of our clients. The person dismissed was not employed as a solicitor however their conduct was reported to the SRA by the firm.

'We have assisted all parties and fortunately the medals involved were recovered.'