A junior solicitor diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome who was convicted after sending a woman he briefly dated a series of abusive Facebook messages has been fined £10,000 by a disciplinary tribunal.
The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal said the seriousness of the admitted misconduct was not such that any sanction should interfere with his right to practise.
James Andrew Wilson, who has changed his name by deed poll from Victor Kruchinkin, was arrested at the offices of central London law firm Adams & Remers, where at the time he was a residential property specialist.
He admitted a charge of persistently making use of the public communications network to cause annoyance or anxiety.
After successfully appealing his original sentence, which included a suspended prison term, he received a 12-month community order, 100 hours of unpaid work and 15 days of rehabilitation activity.
On appeal, 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.”
Mr Wilson, who is 33 this year and 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. He responded with several offensive and threatening messages.
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.”
Mr Wilson’s counsel told the court that most of the messages were “something you would expect to be written by adolescent boys – they were crude”.
He continued: “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.”
The tribunal dealt with the case by approving a statement of agreed facts and outcome reached between Mr Wilson and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
Most of the details of the medical report submitted to the SRA was redacted in the statement, but one section was published: “[The doctor] states that the respondent’s propensity to speak his mind when writing emails/using social media without thinking through the consequence of his actions until it is too late is an inherent part of his inability to communicate in an appropriate social way.”
In mitigation, Mr Wilson said he has complied with his sentence, attended “various courses” to deal with the issues identified in the medical report and was now employed again in the profession, looking to the future “with a degree of optimism”.
Mr Wilson accepted that a reprimand was not a sufficient sanction, while the SRA agreed that “neither the protection of the public nor the protection of the reputation of the profession” required a suspension or strike-off.
“A fine appears to be a sufficient sanction to mark the seriousness of the misconduct and to protect the public and reputation of the profession.”
The tribunal agreed, saying that, in all the circumstances, a financial penalty was “appropriate and proportionate”.
Mr Wilson will also pay costs of £2,600.