A junior solicitor who was convicted after sending a woman he briefly dated a series of abusive Facebook messages has had his sentence reduced but now faces regulatory action too.
Victor Kruchinkin, 32, formerly a residential property specialist at central London firm Adams & Remers, admitted a charge of persistently making use of the public communications network to cause annoyance or anxiety.
He was originally sentenced at a magistrates’ court to six weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, along with 100 hours unpaid work and 25 days of rehabilition activity.
He appealed and his suspended prison sentence was lifted yesterday, along with a restraining order that barred Mr Kruchinkin from contacting the woman.
Her Honour Judge Cahill QC told him: “We take the view that you showed remorse, you have a positive good character. This was an isolated incident carried out on one day.”
His sentence was reduced to a 12-month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity.
Mr Kruchinkin, who qualified in January 2018, met the woman on the dating app Bumble. They met up on 26 and 27 December 2018 before she decided to end their relationship the following day.
Prosecutor Gregor McKinley told Southwark Crown Court: “A series of messages were sent on social media to [the woman] all on 28 December last year.
“He said she was ‘lucky to still be alive’. He said ‘You’re lucky I decided to leave my machete at the hotel on this occasion’.”
He referred to her as “a gobby ethnic from Zone 8” and made offensive comments about the time they had spent together and her appearance.
Mr Kruchinkin went on: “You invited a psycho into your bed, you had no idea. This is the very definition of recklessness. You’re lucky to be alive right now and I suggest you make the most of the life you still have.”
Mr McKinley said the solicitor told her he had created a false Facebook account to seduce her and she would never be able to trace him.
The woman went to the police, who arrested Mr Kruchinkin at his office in early January. He admitted sending the messages but denied they were designed to cause ‘annoyance or anxiety.’
In a statement read to the court, the woman, who is black, said: “I was unable to leave my house for the first few days for fear he was around the corner.
“I was extremely worried he would try and take my life. I believe that the crime was motivated by race because he used the N word.”
Defence counsel Tahir Ali said: “He did make a veiled threat. He met her on a dating website and he shared a night of intimacy with her.
“In relation to whether this offence was racially aggravated, it is my submission that it was not.”
Mr Ali told the court Mr Kruchinkin “dished out insults”, but continued: ‘The motivation for that wasn’t really her ethnicity.
“The majority of the messages that you have heard or read are something you would expect to be written by adolescent boys – they were crude.
“Mr Kruchinkin was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, he has a propensity to speak his mind without thinking through the consequences.
“That may explain why Mr Kruchinkin wasn’t able to hold himself back – quite strange for a solicitor who worked for a commercial firm in the city.
“He is a newly qualified solicitor, he has to bear the punishment that this court will impose.”
His counsel described the solicitor as “socially inept”, continuing: “He may be good academically, he may be good at his job but socially? Not so much.
“The sad reality is he will be unemployable.”
Mr Ali added that Mr Kruchinkin “has suffered rejection in life and doesn’t take too kindly to it”.
A Solicitors Regulation Authority spokesman said it was investigating the matter before deciding on “appropriate action”.