A solicitor jailed for conspiring to supply cocaine has been banned from the profession after pleading to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal for a ‘second chance’.
Omar Mohammed Khan, born in 1984 and admitted to the roll in 2012, was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court to three years’ imprisonment in April 2016.
Publishing its judgment this week, the tribunal said it was satisfied that, in light of Khan’s conviction, he had failed to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. He supplied a controlled drug to a third party and thereby failed to act with integrity, the tribunal added.
The one-day February hearing was heard in Khan’s absence. However, the judgment highlighted mitigation provided by Khan in letters to the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the tribunal.
In a letter to the regulator in June 2016, Khan 'explained that he had “stupidly” started to misuse cocaine himself and had built up a drug debt to a co-defendant’, the judgment states.
’This had caused him to work longer hours. The respondent stated that he became unwell in 2015 and provided details of his ill health.
'As his health deteriorated, the respondent stated that he made a conscious decision to stop using cocaine in November 2015 and he informed his co-defendant of this. He stated he also told his co-defendant that he would repay any debt owed.’
To reduce his ‘drug debt’, Khan said he asked his co-defendant to collect the two grams of cocaine he possessed at the time. His co-defendant asked him to drop one gram to a friend who lived nearby. Khan said he initially ‘relentlessly and repeatedly’ refused. However, due to ‘pressure, coercion and intimidation’, Khan ‘engaged in the supply of one gram to another on [19 November 2015]’. He accepted he engaged in the same activity the following day.
The judgment states that Khan 'was disgusted and ashamed of his actions’.
The tribunal continues: 'The respondent stated he was proud of his status as a solicitor, which he had worked extremely hard to achieve, having come from a humble and underprivileged background.’
'He submitted his actions had been stupid, careless and isolated. The respondent sought not to be removed from the roll of solicitors as he stated this would have a devastating and crippling effect on him and his family.’
In a letter to the tribunal in September 2016, Khan ‘requested a second chance’, submitting that a suspension would be an appropriate sanction.
The tribunal noted that Khan had a previously unblemished record. He co-operated with the regulator and in the disciplinary proceedings. The tribunal also considered remarks made by the sentencing judge, 'who had concluded the respondent’s case was in many respects a tragedy’.
However, the tribunal said Khan’s conduct leading to his conviction, was so serious that a suspension would undermine public confidence in the profession. 'Whilst that conduct may not be repeated in the future, there was a need to protect the reputation of the legal profession and uphold professional standards,’ the tribunal added.
Khan was ordered to be struck off the roll.
Khan told the tribunal he had no income, or savings, and that it was likely he would be claiming state benefits when he is released from prison. However, the tribunal said Khan had not provided any documentary evidence of his income, expenditure, capital or assets.
Khan was ordered to pay £1,337.32 in costs.