SDT fines senior solicitor £25,000 for sexual assault convictions

SDT: Actions were a one-off

A senior solicitor convicted of sexually assaulting two women in his local pub has been fined £25,000 by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

A decision published yesterday cited redacted medical evidence as the reason why it did not suspend Thomas Harland Cadman, who at the time was deputy director general at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Striking him off would be “disproportionately severe” in the circumstances, the SDT said, but “in the ordinary course of events the tribunal would not have been subject to any criticism had it decided to impose a suspension, either indefinite or fixed term”.

Mr Cadman, who qualified in 2008, was found guilty last year of three offences of sexual assault and handed a nine-month community order, meaning he did not have to sign the sex offenders register, with a rehabilitation activity requirement of up to 20 days and a fine of £300 for each offence.

The SDT heard that Mr Cadman knew both women while they were all socialising at their local pub with their various partners.

Later in the evening, he grabbed the buttocks of one of the women on two occasions and later grabbed the other woman’s buttocks too and then her cheek in what she thought may have been an attempt to kiss her. Soon after that, he brushed his hand across her buttocks and the landlord asked Mr Cadman to leave.

In victim impact statements, the first woman said the incident had affected her “greatly”.

The SDT recorded: “She felt nervous around men whilst on her own and has found herself ensuring that her husband knows where she is. She described seeing Mr Cadman in the village and feeling ‘sick and scared’ when she saw him.

“She suffered nightmares and felt worried when her husband goes away, as Mr Cadman lives in the same village as her.”

The second woman said: “This continues to worry me massively. I am very worried that Mr Cadman is still in the village and it keeps me awake thinking about it. I am very upset he lives here.” She said she would be scared if she saw him in the village and that she did not like being alone in her house.

Mr Cadman admitted that his conduct had lacked integrity and damaged public trust. He said his last recollection was that he went inside the pub and that it was still light. “Mr Cadman remembered nothing then until the following day. He described waking up feeling hungover which for him was unusual.”

According to press reports of the magistrates’ court hearing, Mr Cadman said he suffered a blackout after drinking £150 worth of red wine.

After learning the details, he wrote letters of apology to the victims.

His counsel before the SDT stressed the solicitor’s remorse and regret for his behaviour, “which had brough shame upon him and upon the profession”. It had resulted in the loss of his job, “a role at which he had excelled, and one forming the latest chapter of a successful career in the law”.

He apologised to his local community, the wider public and the profession as well, acknowledging that his behaviour was “unequivocally unacceptable”.

“As a further mark of his character”, his counsel said, Mr Cadman had voluntarily not renewed his practising certificate and chosen to remain outside the legal profession until the disciplinary matters were resolved.

In deciding sanction, the SDT said it “recognised the trauma” the victims had experienced “and in no way sought to diminish the sense of damage they felt”.

It continued: “That said, the CPS had placed Mr Cadman’s action within the lowest range of this type of offending and the magistrates had retained jurisdiction to deal with the matter instead of committing Mr Cadman to the Crown Court for sentence.

“In the event, the magistrates imposed the most minimal sentence the circumstances had permitted.”

Equally, the SDT recognised that its function was different to that of the court and said the convictions were “nothing less than very serious”.

However, it found were “a one-off event brought about by the combination of very unfortunate circumstances, both for Mr Cadman and the victims”.

“These matters had occurred over two years ago and there had been no repeat of the misconduct. Mr Cadman had demonstrated genuine insight by recognising the factors which had contributed to the misconduct, and he had addressed them appropriately.”

Without explaining what it was about the medical evidence that meant it opted for a fine rather than suspension, the SDT found £25,000 to be “a fair and proportionate sanction” at the mid-point of the fine band for conduct assessed as very serious.

It also ordered Mr Cadman to pay costs of £3,600.

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