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Drill practitioners on professional distance, Law Society is told

10 Apr 2019 / law society Print

Practitioners must maintain professional distance, judge advises

The Law Society has been asked by a judge to remind solicitors about their duties and obligations to maintain a distance between themselves and their clients.

Judge Keenan Johnson made the comments as he passed a 12-month suspended jail sentence on a solicitor who allowed her mobile telephone to be used by a prisoner.

Judge Johnson said that what had happened could do some good if the issue was highlighted by the Law Society.

Joanne Kangley (41) had a legal practice in Bailieborough, Co Cavan, and pleaded guilty to the offence, which occured while she was speaking to a prisoner receiving medical attention at the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, on 6 November 2014.

She told Judge Keenan Johnson that she was stressed and anxious because of rape threats to her daughter, and that was why she handed over the phone.

The solicitor told the court that the prisoner had demanded her phone and threatened to "fillet" her and had also referred to her "lovely daughter".

Kangley took the SIM card out of her phone and put it on the prisoner’s bed.

She said that, within four days, the prisoner told her he had seen pictures of her daughter and that he threatened harm towards her if she refused to provide him with a SIM card. 

On 10 November, she bought a SIM card and gave it to the prisoner while he was still in hospital.

He told her he was planning an escape and that he would "sort her out and look after her daughter".

The court was told the prisoner used the phone to contact other people outside the prison. Gardaí interviewed the prisoner in February 2015 and seized the phone.

Kangley was arrested on 30 July 2015 and told gardaí that she had supplied the phone under duress.

Breach

The judge said it was clear that Kangley had been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder when she committed the offence. However, the crime was a serious breach of trust for a solicitor acting as an officer of the court.

He said she had already lost her profession, her livelihood and reputation, and that the imposition of a custodial sentence would serve no useful purpose.

Kangley now lives in Spain with her children.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland