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Charges against former Senator dismissed

Charges that former Senator Llewellyn Peniston practised illegally as a lawyer were thrown out in Magistrates’ Court.

Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner said the charges against Mr Peniston should have been laid within six months of the date the offences allegedly occurred.

A criminal case against Mr Peniston relating to the charges was initially dismissed on November 14.

The charges were reinstated after new information was laid.

Said Mr Peniston’s lawyer Eugene Johnston following last week’s hearing: “It can never be right to promote unfettered prosecutorial discretion. That’s what the Crown was arguing for and that’s what the magistrate rejected.

“He had overwhelmingly good reason to do so. Therefore, Mr Peniston trusts that there will be no further attempts to prosecute him out of time, and where the allegations put forward are so obviously barren.”

Mr Peniston was accused last month of practising as a barrister without a valid certificate between February 1 and April 3.

He was also charged with being employed in legal practice despite being a disqualified person, and practising without liability insurance between the same dates.

The criminal case was initially dismissed by Mr Warner after Mr Johnston argued that the charges should have been laid within six months of the alleged offences.

Director of Public Prosecutions gave official sanction for the matter to proceed after new information was laid.

Mr Peniston, a former UBP Senator who ran the law firm Peniston and Associates, has a history of woes dating back to before he was Called to the Bar in 2000. He used to run his own shipping company which was placed into receivership in 1994. According to a prosecutor in a 1998 fraud case, he left Bermuda in 1995 to attend Buckingham University, England, to study law just as the Official Receiver Mark Diel was about to question him on his financial affairs.

Upon his return he was tried and cleared on appeal of concealing the proceeds of two pension policies.

After beginning work as a lawyer, Mr Peniston was punished by the Bar disciplinary panel in January 2007. He was given a one-year suspension from all work involving real estate law after he “acted in a verbally abusive and intimidating manner” and “failed to abide by the terms of his professional undertaking”.

In August 2008, a Supreme Court judge told Mr Peniston he could end up behind bars if he didn’t pay two former clients almost $10,500 owing to them. He paid off the debt to Terry Philpott and Desmond Richardson, who brought a civil action against him, a day after the judge’s warning.

In December 2008, he was suspended for a month after admitting failing to produce his accounts for the Bermuda Bar Association. In December 2010 he was banned from practising anything other than criminal law for two years after a disciplinary panel probed complaints about his financial activities.

In May 2011 he was declared bankrupt and ordered by the Supreme Court to hand over any assets of value, such as his home, income and possessions, to help pay off his debts.

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Published December 03, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 02, 2012 at 10:43 pm)

Charges against former Senator dismissed

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