Litigation Disciplinary Tribunals 11/10/94

ALAN GARTH BOWNES, 46, admitted 1972, practised in partnership as Garth Bownes, Newcastle upon Tyne, struck off and ordered to pay u3,696.75 costs. Allegations substantiated he misappropriated client funds and used them for own purposes, breached accounting rules and had been convicted of offences of dishonesty in course of his practise as solicitor. Tribunal told Law Society inspection of books revealed that from 29 January 1989 to 24 December 1992, Bownes misappropriated client funds of at least u79,814.63. Misappropriation had involved false ledger entries. Bownes given 12 months' jail sentence, suspended for two years, after being convicted at Leeds Crown Court in May this year of five counts of theft, one of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception, two of obtaining property by deception and two of false accounting. Trial judge had said offences arose from failure to process cases in which Bownes had been instructed. He had paid clients out of his firm's client funds in respect of litigation that had never taken place. Tribunal said Bownes had made no personal gain from his actions and that, in the simplest terms he "crumbled" when subjected to pressure.

GERALD SEXTON, admitted 1980, practised in Twickenham, struck off and ordered to pay u838.33 costs following convictions of dishonesty on a number of counts. Tribunal told he was jailed for 18 months after conviction at Birmingham Crown Court on 29 September 1993 of conspiracy to obtain property by deception, using a copy of a false instrument and acting with intent to pervert the course of justice. Tribunal told his convictions involved conspiracy to enable a Derbyshire County Councillor to obtain dishonestly and by deception payments of an allowance from the county council on the basis that the councillor had suffered loss of earnings and was entitled to claim financial loss allowance. Trial judge had told Sexton he had "stooped to underhand business" and his conduct had made the "shabby affair" considerably more serious. Sexton admitted facts but said he had received no financial advantage from what happened and the amount involved had only been u13,600. Tribunal said that although he had received no personal gain he and the councillor had embarked on a lengthy and calculated form of deception which showed a serious defect in his character.