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Bristol Uni law student who swore at police avoids criminal record after representing himself in court

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In this difficult moment for wannabe lawyers, where work experience is so scarce that a week-long placement can sell for thousands of pounds, it pays to operate unconventionally — as first year Bristol University law student Wyatt Coneely has unwittingly discovered…

At first glance, Coneely’s decision to drunkenly approach the passenger window of a police car, swear loudly at the officers inside it, before sticking two fingers up at them with both hands, would seem unwise — particularly from a careers’ perspective.

In fact, it would prove a masterstroke, earning Coneely an opportunity to gain priceless advocacy experience in Bristol Magistrates’ Court, where this week he represented himself against the drunk and disorderly charge which ensued from his behaviour.

There, driven on by the knowledge that anything other than a top notch performance would see him lumbered with a criminal record, the 18 year-old discovered a power of persuasion that will doubtless hold him in good stead in future training contract and pupillage interviews.

“I cannot dispute the facts. I would like to give my sincerest apologies to the officers,” Coneely is reported to have told magistrates, adding: “Any criminal record will have an extremely detrimental effect on any future career.”

Moved by the lad’s plea, the Bristol magistrates took the unusual step of granting him an absolute discharge.

“Although you are guilty of the offence, we do not think you need to be punished,” said presiding magistrate Martin Scott.

Coneely was ordered to pay the prosecution costs of £85 — a snip compared to the £2,660 which Westminster School flogged a mini-pupillage for last month.