The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal has struck off a solicitor who was convicted for conspiring to supply cocaine and sentenced to three years in prison, despite his plea for a second chance.
Omar Mohammed Khan, a barrister-turned-solicitor who worked at criminal defence firm The Johnson Partnership in Nottingham, had become a drug addict himself.
He was disbarred from practising as a barrister by the Bar Standards Board last month, almost a year after receiving his prison sentence, in April 2016.
Mr Khan, who was born in 1984 and admitted as a solicitor in 2012, said in letters to the tribunal that the only thing he had left in his life now was his career practising as a solicitor, and that being removed from the roll would have a “devastating and crippling effect” on him and his family.
He explained that he had resolved to stop using cocaine in November 2015 after becoming unwell, and then attempted to use two grams of cocaine in his possession to repay a debt owed to his co-defendant.
He was persuaded to take half of the cocaine to his co-defendant’s “friend” nearby, who turned out to be an undercover police officer.
In mitigation, Mr Khan wrote: “I initially prefussely [sic], relentlessly and repeatedly refused to carry this out. However, I became involved through pressure, coercion and intimidation falling short of duress to carry this out and I accept without thinking and stupidly engaged in the supply of one gram of cocaine.” A day later, he supplied the remaining gram of cocaine.
The tribunal recorded he was “disgusted and ashamed of his actions”, for which he had remorse. The conviction had been “devastating” to both his personal life and work. He had come from a “humble and underprivileged background”. His actions had been “stupid, careless and isolated”.
He submitted that a fine, conditions on his practising certificate, or a suspension for a period of time would be an appropriate sanction.
However, the tribunal concluded that although he had a “previously unblemished record”, Mr Khan had “caused harm to the reputation of the solicitors’ profession”.
Aggravating factors were his criminal conviction, his actions had been deliberate, and he ought reasonably to have known they were in breach of his obligations to protect the public and the profession’s reputation.
The tribunal considered the comments of the sentencing judge, who described the respondent’s case as “in many respects a tragedy”. The fact he was a lawyer if anything made his offending “slightly worse” because his qualifications should have been a deterrent to involving himself in criminal activity.
The tribunal decided that a fine was an insufficient punishment, that it would be hard to formulate workable conditions that would adequately address criminal misconduct, and a suspension for such a serious offence would undermine public confidence in the profession.
It concluded that striking off was “the appropriate and proportionate sanction in this case”.
Mr Khan was ordered to pay £1,337 in costs.