His legal career now hangs in the balance
A 26-year-old newly qualified (NQ) solicitor has been handed a suspended prison sentence for changing the date on a parking permit with a felt tip pen.
Steven Barker appeared before Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday facing four counts of obtaining services by deception, fraud, and making an article for use in fraud.
The court heard how Barker had used a felt tip pen to — somewhat crudely — add an extra year onto his parking permit, changing the five in ‘13 July 2015’ to a six.
According to the Mail Online, Barker would leave his vehicle in a carpark in Southsea and travel — via hovercraft — to a firm based on the Isle of Wight, where he was completing his training contract.
The young solicitor — who has since lost his job as an in-house lawyer at insurance outfit Ageas — was caught using the doctored permit (pictured below) on four occasions between October and November last year.
Though Barker admitted the four counts back in September, his counsel, William Mousley QC of London’s 2KBW, claimed he had been suffering from poor health and financial difficulties at the time of the offences. Continuing, he said:
He is ashamed. This was either a gross error of judgement or an act of complete stupidity and he now has a high price to pay and this will remain with him for a significant period.
Sentencing Barker to six months in prison, suspended for two years, Judge Ian Pearson said:
Effectively you are ruined as far as being a solicitor is concerned. It’s highly unlikely you will retain that position. The public expect a higher standard of honesty and integrity from members of the profession and this matter means that you plainly fail to achieve the high standard expected.
Barker — who only qualified in February and is currently unemployed — was also slapped with 150 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £986 prosecution costs.