Lawyer jailed after billing client whilst receiving legal aid
10 March 2017
An Australian lawyer has been jailed for three years for billing a client, whilst also receiving funds from the Legal Aid Commission.
Canberra lawyer Stephen Stubbs invoiced more than AUD25,000 to a client who faced charges of conspiracy to murder. The client's mother, Anne Duffy, paid the bill. But unknown to her, Stubbs was also claiming legal aid on the sly. The lawyer's ruse was discovered when a practice manager at his firm discovered the dodgy dealing and reported him.
Stubbs was hauled before the court. During the trial the prosecution argued that Stubbs had deceived both Anne Duffy and the Legal Aid Commission. Duffy told the court that she had paid fees into Stubbs' personal account during her son's legal proceedings, on the understanding that there were no Legal Aid funs available. The prosecution showed the court an email that Stubbs sent the Legal Aid Commission stating that there was inadequate funding to represent his client, and that his firm was out of pocket because of counsel costs. Stubbs admitted that he made a stupid mistake.
In December last year, the court found Stubbs guilty of 14 counts of dishonesty, and the judge slammed him for being "a thoroughly dishonest person
". This week, the court has now sentenced the lawyer to three years in jail.