An experienced solicitor who head-butted a fellow parent during a children’s rugby match has been struck off the roll. Gavin Dowell, 52 this year, was convicted in June 2016 on indictment of wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm following the incident which left his victim with bone protruding through his nose and bleeding heavily.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard that Dowell, who was a coach at the rugby club in Bristol, had been acting as linesman during a match when he remonstrated with the referee following a fracas between two boys. When the victim, also a coach, tried to intervene and calm the situation, a ‘red in the face’ Dowell head-butted him in front of both their children.
The victim is likely to recover at best 40% of the vision in his left eye and has struggled to sleep after an incident which he described as having destroyed his life.
The tribunal heard Dowell, who received a suspended two-year sentence, did not report his conviction to the Solicitors Regulation Authority as he was required to do, and the regulator discovered it only through press reports.
Dowell, a solicitor for 27 years, emailed the tribunal in May to say he accepted his conviction rendered him ‘wholly unfit’ to remain on the roll and that no further resources needed to be taken up on the matter. Dowell had been working at national firm Harrison Clark Rickerbys on a self-employed basis through a consultancy company, and he submitted to the SDT he ceased working in the law within 24 hours of his conviction and did not intend to do so again.
The tribunal also found proven an allegation against Dowell that he had fabricated and/or backdated an email in February 2016 which falsely represented that he had informed the other side in a litigation matter of an upcoming hearing date. Two allegations of dishonesty were both upheld.
In deciding sanction, the SDT heard from a witness that the rugby match attack was a ‘very deliberate, premeditated act of violence’ which left those who saw it ‘distraught’.
Considering the possibility the conduct may be repeated, the harm to his victim, and the findings of dishonesty, a strike-off was deemed to be the only suitable sanction. Dowell was also ordered to pay £9,102 costs.