City lawyer struck off for child sex offences

SDT: Severe harm caused to victims

A solicitor formerly at City giant Herbert Smith Freehills has been struck off after being jailed for child sex offences.

The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) said its ruling was anonymised to protect AH’s ex-wife and children.

The tribunal said AH, 48 this year and admitted in 2009, was an associate at the law firm at the time of the offences.

He was first convicted in October 2021 at High Wycombe Magistrates’ Court of three offences of making indecent photographs of a child, having pleaded guilty.

Over a decade, he made 1,379 category A (the most serious) indecent photographs of children, 1,673 category B photographs and 6,772 category C photographs.

The following October, after a trial at Aylesbury Crown Court, he was convicted of arranging and facilitating the commission of an act “which he intended to do or intended another to do, the doing of which would involve the commission of an offence” under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

He did this by discussing meeting with two men for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with an eight-year-old girl.

The custodial sentence of 19 months imposed by Aylesbury Crown Court in December last year was substituted with a 19-month suspended sentence following a successful appeal in March this year.

AH was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for a period of 10 years and placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

In an agreed outcome with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and approved by the SDT, AH admitted failing to act with integrity or in a way that maintained public trust.

In non-agreed mitigation, AH said that in the four years since his arrest, he had “made substantial and concerted efforts” to ensure he was “never again before the courts”, developing “insight into the triggers for his offending behaviour” and showing “genuine remorse”.

He had completed 92 sessions at his own expense with a specialist sex offender therapist and attended Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) meetings, some of which he organised and ran online during the pandemic.

“He also attempted to set up SAA meetings whilst in custody to help other inmates begin rehabilitation, having identified the few resources available at HMP Bullingdon to prevent future offending.

“He has worked very hard at maintaining an amicable relationship with his ex-wife and to maintain an enduring relationship with his two daughters.”

The SRA said it was impossible to know the true impact of his actions on the victims in the photos, but the parties agreed “that the level of harm is severe.”

The SDT said: “Notwithstanding the mitigation, the seriousness of the criminal offending spoke for itself.”

AH was struck off and ordered to pay costs of just over £4,000.

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