Ban for paralegal convicted of online child abuse

Thomas: Section 43 order

A paralegal at a Cardiff law firm jailed last year after being convicted of 158 child abuse offences has been banned from the solicitors’ profession.

Owain Thomas was an administration assistant at Albany Solicitors when he was arrested – media coverage from the time described the law graduate as an “aspiring barrister”.

In March 2019 at Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to 158 online offences against 146 children aged between nine and 16.

In July, Thomas, then 29, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment and five years on licence. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has made an order against him under section 43 of the Solicitors Act 1974, which means he cannot work in the regulated profession without its permission.

Reports at the time said he was first investigated for what South Wales Police said appeared to be an isolated act of indecency when he approached some children in his car and tried to persuade them to expose themselves to him.

Thomas was reported to police and a search of his house led officers to discover the scale of his crimes. He created fake profiles on popular online games, pretending to be a child, and would offer his victims gaming credits in exchange for sexual favours to be performed on camera, which he would record.

He used footage of those victims, pretending it was him, to create peer pressure in group chat situations, often taking on the role of three people at any one time, in multiple-way online group chats. He also shared it with other paedophiles.

A forensic investigation uncovered 110 hours of footage of abuse. Officers then visited schools up and down the country with images of the victims’ faces and identified them one by one.

Thomas’s barrister was quoted as telling the court that his “paedophile interest” was “like a drug” and that it was “merciful” Thomas was arrested following his very first foray out seeking face-to-face contact with victims.

It was reported that Thomas had begged police not to send him to prison. He cried as he was arrested, saying: “I need help. I know I need help. I can’t go to prison, I won’t cope in there.”

Leave a Comment

By clicking Submit you consent to Legal Futures storing your personal data and confirm you have read our Privacy Policy and section 5 of our Terms & Conditions which deals with user-generated content. All comments will be moderated before posting.

Required fields are marked *
Email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Will solicitors finally be fans of transparency now?

Since the introduction of the SRA’s transparency rules in December 2018, I have been an advocate for law firms going further then the regulatory essentials.

A two-point plan to halve the size of the SRA

I have joked for many years that you could halve the size (and therefore cost) of the Solicitors Regulation Authority overnight by banning both client account and sole practitioners.

Key cyber and data security questions to ask a legal IT provider

One of the growing priorities that law firms face when considering a legal technology provider is cyber and data security, such as their responsibilities and cyber incident management.

Loading animation