Lawyer jailed for theft of $620,000

A TRUSTED Geelong solicitor who stole more than $620,000 from clients over a decade has been sentenced to a maximum of five years' jail.

Kenneth Edward Hampson, 60, began removing money from his clients' trust accounts for his own use in May 1992 following the downfall of the Pyramid Building Society.

He pleaded guilty to 18 counts of theft and one count of having a trust account deficiency.

"Along with many others, you suffered adverse consequences from the (Pyramid) collapse," Justice Bernard Teague said.

The Supreme Court heard that Hampson's last theft took place in February 2002, shortly before a receiver was appointed to take over his practice.

There was a deficiency of $623,862 in Hampson's trust account, but the court heard he had stolen more than $1 million.

However, Justice Teague said that was "a somewhat meaningless figure" as Hampson had repaid clients he had stolen from. "In short, you routinely robbed Peter to pay Paul," Justice Teague said. The amounts stolen ranged from $587 to $185,302.

"Years ago in this court, you took an oath when you joined the profession," he said. "You have seriously betrayed that oath."

In sentencing Hampson to a minimum of 30 months in jail, Justice Teague said there were many mitigating factors, which included his guilty plea, remorse, contributions to local community groups and co-operation with police and Law Institute of Victoria investigators.

"Other lawyers must be deterred from betraying the trust of their clients," Justice Teague said. "You not only demeaned yourself, you demeaned the legal profession."

He said he was impressed by more than 40 letters "from various walks of life" tendered on behalf of Hampson, a married father of two. "Your contributions to the community have been considerable, not only in the past but up to the time that you were taken into custody last month," he said.

Source : https://www.theage.com.au/national/lawyer-jailed-for-theft-of-620-000-20060628-ge2lt1.html

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