How it looked.
A solicitor who purchased fireworks fraudulently while he was awaiting trial for theft has agreed to be struck off.
Nathan Horsley was the head of litigation at Sunderland-based Hedleys Solicitors when he was charged with stealing thousands of pounds from the firm to fund his gambling addiction.
Horsley claimed that Hedleys' Managing Partner had wrongly accused him of taking cash-in-hand for divorce work as revenge after "I whistleblew to the SRA regarding financial irregularities".
While he was on bail for the theft allegations, Horsley started BCBG Pyrotechnics, an events business, but trouble followed him into his new trade. In November 2016, he secured fireworks costing over £5,000 by sending suppliers screenshots from his Halifax banking app which wrongly indicated that he had paid for the goods.
Horsley tried using the same trick to order £313 of Thorntons chocolates, £1,500 of Marks & Spencer gift cards and several hampers worth £3,451, but was unsuccessful. He also stiffed a woman on Gumtree by selling her non-existent tickets to the Grand National for £270, which he failed to refund.
Although Horsley was acquitted by a jury of stealing from his firm, he was found guilty in a separate trial on seven counts of fraud for his dodgy sale and purchases, and received a suspended sentence of 24 months in prison. In mitigation at the tribunal hearing, Horsley blamed the Crown Prosecution Service for subjecting him to a "witch hunt".
Horsley argued that the CPS, "knowing the Hedleys case was weak and lacked evidence", used its resources to investigate his business transactions "in order to seek bad character evidence to bolster their prospects".
"Inevitably when an establishment as big as the Economic Crime Unit of four different Police Forces have thrown so much mud even the most upstanding individuals will find some sticks", claimed the lawyer.
He agreed to be struck off, and was ordered to pay the SRA's costs of £1,300.