A barrister infamous for his conviction for possession of drugs that led to the death of his boyfriend has been jailed for 14 months after obtaining drugs from clients he was representing.
Messages found Henry Hendron’s mobile phone revealed he had asked to buy to buy Class A methamphetamine and then-Class C GBL.
Mr Hendron, 42, who had represented both men over drug supply allegations, was arrested outside Belmarsh prison in May last year while visiting Smit as his lawyer.
Sentencing him to 14 months in jail, Judge Jonathan Mann KC described the barrister as “clearly bright and capable” adding: “It is clear you are a well thought-of person both professionally and personally.”
The judge told him: “I want to make it clear that it is not the fact that you are a barrister that is so serious. What is so serious is these offences have been committed by you in the context of you asking those you represent, or represented, to supply you with drugs.”
The court heard Mr Hendron had asked to buy drugs from Arno Smit in September 2021, just weeks before his client was arrested.
He then represented Mr Smit at the police station, the magistrates’ court and at Woolwich Crown Court, where his client entered not guilty pleas in November 2021 but was later jailed.
“The consequence of that professional act is beyond my jurisdiction, but it shows, if I may say, the seriousness and the level to which you had sunk,” Judge Mann told him.
“[This was a] client of yours who was later to face Crown Court proceedings for supply of drugs, you were encouraging him to supply you with drugs, then went to court to represent him.
“So there is an abuse of responsibility to that defendant and an abuse of responsibility to the court.”
The police discovered Mr Hendron’s messages on Mr Smit’s phone and an investigation found evidence from 2020 indicating that he had purchased drugs from another client.
Sean Sullivan, defending, highlighted his client’s drug addiction and the impact over the death of his partner in 2015.
“It seems inevitable that Mr Hendron will never be practising as a barrister again,” he added.
In 2017, Mr Hendron was suspended from practising for three years following his conviction on two charges of possessing controlled so-called ‘designer chemsex’ drugs (mephedrone, known as ‘meow meow’, and GBL) with intent to supply. Tragically, the drugs led to the death of his teenage boyfriend at a party.
The suspension was backdated to the date of conviction in May 2016, when he was sentenced to a compulsory unpaid work order of 140 hours, with a supervision requirement.
Shortly after his return to practice in 2019, he was suspended again for three months after he failed to comply with a determination of the Legal Ombudsman to pay a complainant £850.
However, the decision was overturned in 2020 by the High Court because he was already suspended at the time of the events. The Bar Standards Board admitted that the case had exposed a “lacuna” in its rules and the legislative framework.
Then, in 2021, Mr Hendron was reprimanded and prohibited from undertaking public access work for two years after another Bar disciplinary tribunal found that he had practised during his three-year suspension.
The Bar Standards Board had called for him to be disbarred and the failure to do so was cited by one of the submissions to the 2021 consultation on the sanctions guidance for disciplinary tribunals.
“The fact that this barrister was not disbarred at any point is astonishing,” it said. “There have been not one, but tens of perfectly justifiable reasons to disbar him.”
In the wake of the 2021 tribunal, Mr Hendron – who described himself at the time as a “recovering drug addict” – wrote on Twitter: “Presently I embark upon substantial life style changes so that tomorrow I can build back strong using this [experience] as a catalyst for change.”