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Judge: disgraced lawyer abused clients to line own pockets

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A judge said a jailed lawyer “coldly abused” his vulnerable clients in a written judgment that explained why he had handed down a 15-year prison sentence.

Tyrone Quinn, 37, was found guilty in November of three counts of theft by a unanimous verdict after a jury found that he had taken a total of $483,000 from compensation payments made for three of his clients.

While Quinn maintained that he fully intended to repay his victims, the court heard that none of the stolen funds had been returned at the time of his sentencing in March.

In a written decision released this week, Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe said the evidence in the trial raised numerous questions, including why Quinn would steal from vulnerable victims; why he failed to repay the funds; and why he claimed to have acted under duress while admitting that $140,000 of the funds were spent in ways unrelated to purported threats.

“There is only one answer to all of those questions,” he added.

“It is because the defendant was and still is intent on exhausting every legal and procedural mechanisms available to him, and not available to him, in order to escape criminality, which included a baseless abuse of process application and an equally unsubstantiated application for me to recuse myself from this matter.

“He used his extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and of the jury trial process to try and absolve himself of any blame for what he unambiguously did to his victims and of having to pay any of his victims who had put their endearing trust and faith in him to relieve them of what must have been and probably still is excruciating physical, emotional and financial pain.

“He had coldly abused and continues to abuse that trust and faith in order to selfishly line his own pockets.”

Tyrone Quinn (File photograph)

During Quinn’s trial, the court heard that between May 2020 and February 2021, he received awards on behalf of three clients in separate legal matters.

Of the three clients, two received a small portion of their award, while the third received nothing.

Quinn acknowledged in court that he had received the funds for the clients but said he had no intention of permanently depriving them of the money.

He told the court he had been approached by two men in 2019 over a “problem” related to an illegal business transaction and that they had demanded compensation.

Quinn said he did not know the men or their “problem” but he complied with their demands after they threatened him and his family, paying them thousands of dollars and making a range of payments on their behalf.

However, the judge added that the quick and unanimous verdict showed that the jury found the defence to be “absolute hogwash”.

Mr Justice Wolffe said that while Quinn maintained his claims during his sentencing hearing, he had not provided sufficient evidence to support them.

“Any evidence which the defendant may have uttered in this regard was riddled with inconsistencies and implausibility,” he wrote.

“All of this blindingly illustrated that the trial was a monumental waste of the court’s and the jury’s time.”

While the judge said Quinn deserved credit for his previously clean record, he had shown no genuine remorse and continued to try to absolve himself of blame for what the victims suffered.

In all the circumstances, he sentenced Quinn to eight years for the theft of $300,000, five years for the theft of $96,000 and 4½ years for the theft of $87,000.

Mr Justice Wolffe found that the sentences should run consecutively given that they concerned different victims at different times, but that a total sentence of 17½ years would be excessive and adjusted it to 15 years.

He also ordered a report on Quinn’s assets to help determine if a confiscation order should be made to help the victims recoup their losses.

“Of course, whether or not a confiscation order should eventually be made against the defendant may be an issue for another time,” Mr Justice Wolffe said.

“To this end, the court which is called upon to consider whether a confiscation order should be made will no doubt determine whether or not the defendant has benefited from stealing $483,000 from his victims before making such order.”

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