Last month, BPP Law School Legal Practice Course (LPC) graduate Victoria Lawson admitted stealing more than £8,000 from John Lewis, where she was working part-time having failed to net a training contract.
The expectation was that 25 year-old Lawson – who stole the sizeable sum from the Peterborough branch of the store via a fake refund scam – would be sent to jail when she was sentenced on Friday at Peterborough Magistrates Court.
But for District Judge Andrew Jones, the fact that Lawson’s crime will prevent her from ever practising as a solicitor was punishment enough. As such, he decided to take what he termed an "unusual course" and hand Lawson a community order with supervision instead...
"You are going to suffer some significant and life-long punishment in the sense that the years of training you have undertaken will not be put to use," Judge Jones told Lawson. "You will never be able to practice as a lawyer and that’s a life-long punishment, over and above anything this court can impose."
The judge continued: "I’m adopting this unusual course as you know from your training, theft from employment often imposes a prison sentence," adding: "The real punishment is the tragic fact that you will probably never practise as a solicitor.”"
Lawson (pictured), who stood for South Holland district council last year as a Conservative local election candidate, told police after her arrest that she had committed the offences because she was "sad and depressed and wanted to cheer herself up".
In court last month her solicitor said: "She can’t explain why she did it. She doesn’t have any idea. She had a significant amount of savings in her account already."
He also explained that Lawson, a Huddersfield University history graduate who converted to law by the GDL route, had been receiving psychiatric support in the hope of identifying the cause of her actions. He suggested her behaviour was linked to feelings of loneliness and isolation after her return to rural Lincolnshire from law school.
Read about the details of Lawson's scam here.