Lawtons were instructed after it had already started to go wrong.
Our client had been recommended to other solicitors originally. He had initially been spoken to by the Police and had not sought legal advice, following that formal police interview where he had denied the offence, he received a Postal Requisition telling him that he now had to go to court in connection with a serious allegation involving the distribution of an indecent image of a child.
With no convictions for over 20 years, a model member of society with a highly professional career, where his good character was vital, our client was understandably concerned and shocked to receive this news. He had a pre-booked holiday and instructed his old solicitors of this, he was reassured that they would get the court case moved so he could still go, giving him time to prepare his case. His shock when he was arrested on the plane when he returned to the UK was understandable. Already worried about the allegations he faced, he spent the night in a police station cell, accused of having fled the jurisdiction.
When he appeared at Camberwell Magistrates Court the following day, he maintained his denial of the allegation that he had distributed an indecent image of a child. However, he was badly advised. He was told to plead guilty. He trusted his solicitor at the time and entered a guilty plea to the very serious offence of distributing an indecent grade A image of a child and also to a much less serious and unrelated offence. Due to the serious nature of the case, he was sent to Inner London Crown Court for Sentence, where he was told that he may expect to receive a significant custodial sentence of 3 or more years. Our client and his future and his liberty were all at risk. He immediately had to sign on the Sexual Offences Register.
Not interested in Legal Aid and wanting the best possible outcome, he contacted our Nick Titchener. Having met with him and in considering the papers, taking the time to consider and become familiar with the case, it became increasingly clear that our client had been wrongly advised.
Whilst the Prosecution were initially uncooperative with any suggestion of agreeing to our client’s guilty plea being vacated, after considerable research and case preparation, the expert team put forward by Lawtons were able to show unequivocally that our client had been wrongly advised.
In fact, due to what Lawtons’ Nick Titchener had established, when the Crown Court Judge agreed to the very rare and unusual course of action in vacating our client’s Guilty plea, the Prosecution’s position fundamentally changed. Whilst they had originally been the ones to authorise this serious case against our client, due to what Lawtons had established, when our client proceeded to enter a Not Guilty plea to the accusation of distributing an indecent image, the Prosecution invited the case to be dismissed, a Not Guilty verdict being recorded. For the remaining, minor offence, our client received a 12 Month Conditional Discharge, the Judge making it clear that the case had been expertly handled.
Our client was immediately removed from the Sex Offenders Register—his future liberty now safe and his reputation intact.
The case goes to illustrate just how important it is to have experts dealing with the case from the outset and how devastating and damaging it can be when the wrong advice is given. Lawtons have the expertise and experience to deal with these complex cases properly.