A senior director of a West Midlands law firm who was convicted of exposing himself to young girls while jogging in Dorset has been struck off.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) described the conduct of Mark Pittaway, who worked at Thursfields Legal, as “disgraceful and totally unbecoming of a member of the solicitors’ profession”.
Mr Pittaway, admitted in 1986, was a director of the law firm at the time of the offences, and was the compliance officer for legal practice and money laundering compliance officer.
He self-reported to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in October 2021 that he had been charged with the offences, which took place in the Portland area of Dorset, “on various occasions dating back to 2018”.
The law firm wrote to the SRA the following month, reporting that Mr Pittaway had informed them of the charges and been suspended as a result. He left the partnership soon after.
The solicitor was convicted of five indecent exposure offences over a three-year period following a trial at West Dorset Magistrates Court in March 2022, largely as a result of evidence from two school-aged witnesses.
He told the SRA that, if he had exposed himself, it was “purely accidental and as a result of the length of his shorts”.
Having viewed some of the CCTV, the SDT recorded, “he conceded that his genitals were on display but that he had not appreciated that at the time and that he must have hitched his shorts up to scratch his groin area”.
In an agreed outcome with Mr Pittaway approved by the tribunal, the SRA quoted from the victim impact statement of one of the girls, aged 14 at the time: “Nearly every day for two years, this man would flash his genitals to me. I was in school. Walking to and from school. It was horrible. I would go to school scared and frightened of what will happen to me.”
When sentencing, the chair of the bench found that the location and timing of the offences was deliberate and the solicitor was deliberately targeting vulnerable female victims.
He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with a 12-week electronically monitored curfew between 9pm and 9am and a requirement for 250 hours of unpaid work.
The solicitor was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years, later extended to 10, banning him from “exercising in a public place (including outdoors or in a gym setting) unless he wears trousers or shorts that are no shorter than knee length and that have no front fastenings”.
He was banned from running or jogging from Monday to Friday between the hours of 7-9am or 2.30-4.30pm, “or at any time within sight of any school premises”.
Mr Pittaway admitted failing to uphold public trust and confidence in the profession and acting with a lack of integrity.
The SRA said his misconduct was aggravated by “the length of time over which the misconduct was found to have occurred, by the finding that young girls were targeted, and by the respondent’s lack of insight into his conduct”.
The SDT said: “This was not a case in which Mr Pittaway’s behaviour had little or no nexus with his professional life.
“His criminal conviction was of a degree and nature entirely incompatible with maintaining the reputation of the profession in the eyes of the public. The serious circumstances of this case required no lesser sanction than strike off.”
Mr Pittaway was ordered to pay costs of £2,850.