Top tip: pick your prison phone wisely.
A law firm consultant has been banned from working in the profession after he set up secret conversations with a prisoner using mobile phones smuggled into jail.
Chatty man Dene McClean racked up 16 hours of voice calls and dozens of WhatsApp messages with prisoner Jonathan Gomez, who was on remand at Wormwood Scrubs awaiting trial for conspiracy to possess a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Gomez took the calls from McClean, who was a consultant with London law firm Carson Kaye at the time, over a 12 month period, on seven contraband phones sneaked into prison, and communicated with McClean on them at least 544 times.
The illicit comms channel was discovered when a mobile belonging to Gomez's girlfriend was examined after his first trial collapsed. In one damning message, McClean told her, "Tell him to call me from prison phone, not the mobile tomorrow afternoon".
As a result of their misconduct, some of which took place while Gomez had been explicitly warned by a judge not to communicate with his legal advisors as he was appearing as a sworn witness in his trial, Gomez had nine months added to his 12 year sentence.
And McClean won the opportunity to smuggle his own phones into the clink after he was sentenced to 42 weeks in prison, having pleaded guilty to unauthorised transmission of a sound and an image from within a prison. He has now been made subject to an order by the Solicitors Regulation Authority which means no law firm can employ him without the regulator’s consent.
Crown prosecutor Robert Hutchinson said at the time, "McClean’s actions were criminal. As somebody working within the legal profession, he should have known better".
“The rules are clear in that legal professionals must use official routes to speak with their clients", he added.