Legal aid for P addict lawyer who defrauded legal aid
Delinquent Auckland barrister and P addict David Flewitt was struck off after being convicted of 17 dishonesty offences and one of assaulting a police officer.
Flewitt used his income and then progressively all his property, including his home, to support his methamphetamine habit, the New Zealand Law Society reported.
He failed to avoid being struck off by claiming a long suspension would be a sufficient penalty.
Flewitt claimed striking him off would provide little hope for him and for other lawyers with addiction who might otherwise be prepared to come forward.
Spread over two years and involving a little more than $5000, his dishonesty included shoplifting and petrol theft, fraudulent use of credit cards and TradeMe accounts and – most serious – carefully defrauding the Legal Services Agency.
The law society told a lawyers and conveyancers disciplinary tribunal Flewitt’s offending was protracted and premeditated and said a lawyer’s personal circumstances were subordinate to the need to maintain professional standards.
He was ordered to pay $5664 costs to the tribunal.
Ironically, had Flewitt not been on legal aid at the tribunal, he would have been liable to pay $1424 law society costs.