"Oh these little things? Got them for doing my 50th Parkrun"

A legal secretary has been banned from working in the profession, after she was convicted of stealing a client's collection of war medals and jewellery.

Ebony Thomas was a secretary at Hartlepool firm Tilly Bailey & Irvine from 2017 to 2021. A client, who was a collector, gave the firm his selection of service medals and jewellery for safe keeping. But Thomas managed to access the storage boxes and steal some of the shiny contents.  

The light-fingered secretary advertised some of the medals on Facebook and sold a selection to a collector. However, after feeling guilty, she reportedly handed herself into the police.

The client had also checked the storage boxes at the firm and discovered items were missing, after a friend spotted some of the medals had been advertised online.

The firm dismissed Thomas for gross misconduct.

The legal secretary appeared in court and admitted the theft, saying that she had fallen into gambling debt. Her barrister told the court: "The guilt felt was instant and the realisation this was an ill conceived, ill-thought out and ill-prepared act.”

The court convicted Thomas of two accounts of theft, and sentenced her to eight months imprisonment (for the theft of the war medals); and 16 months imprisonment (for the theft of the jewellery). Both sentences were suspended for two years. The court also ordered that Thomas pay £500 in compensation to the victim. 

The SRA has now issued a section 43 order against Thomas which prohibits her from working in a legal practice without the SRA's prior permission.

The firm told RollOnFriday: "Tilly Bailey & Irvine dismissed an employee last year when it was established that the individual’s actions breached the SRA’s code of conduct and the employee’s contract of employment. The person dismissed was not employed as a solicitor however their conduct was reported to the SRA by the firm and the firm has assisted all parties." 

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Monkey Hanger 08 April 22 08:52

As the Tilly Bailey & Irvine website says:

Life can provide some nasty surprises. If that includes a brush with the law and possible prosecution you need to look for the best lawyer to defend you.”

Given Ebony Thomas didn’t serve any time, it seems she took their advice and did find a decent lawyer. 

Anonymous 08 April 22 09:51

Suspended sentence and only a £500 payment? Absolute joke. Essentially no punishment then. 

Anonymous 08 April 22 11:26

@Goddess of Law 08 April 22 10:43

With a gambling addition, all money will go into gambling. In her case it came crashing down fast.

Hackaforte 08 April 22 11:27

@Goddess - We're not talking Jean Valjean and his stolen loaf here, we're talking about someone stealing to feed an addiction. No pay rise is ever enough to fill that bottomless void. That said, she knew what she was doing. 

I certainly would advocate for higher pay for legal secretaries, but it's not likely to help here. 

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