A respected tax lawyer who collected, made and shared child pornography has been banned from practising as a solicitor.
Stephen Coleclough, 64, was convicted in February 2016 on counts of possession and making of indecent images of a child, and of distributing indecent photographs of children.
In an outcome agreed in advance and announced in open court, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal heard Coleclough pleaded guilty at Northampton Crown Court to eight offences in total. The court heard Coleclough collected more than 100 images, including of very young people, over 14 months.
But the sentencing judge decided not to jail Coleclough, as it would be ‘counter-productive’ to his efforts to understand his offending and prevent it happening again. He was sentenced to a term of 14 months’ imprisonment suspended for 24 months, along with 100 days of rehabilitation activities, a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and notification requirements to be in place for 10 years.
Coleclough qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and worked as a specialist tax adviser for several firms over the course of his career.
A London-based LLP, which he joined in 2013, lists him as a designated member.
According to local reports at the time of his conviction, he was also a former president of the Chartered Institute of Taxation.
The tribunal found the level of culpability and harm from his misconduct were high, with harm to both society and to the reputation of the profession. Aggravating features included the 14-month period over which he breached the law and that it was a misconduct he ought to have known was in breach of his obligations as a solicitor.
He was struck off the roll and ordered to pay £1,488 costs. The SDT agreed that a letter outlining his mitigation, in relation to his family and medical information, should not be made public.