Australia'The hallmarks of tragedy': Sydney lawyer disqualified after drug conviction

17:26  10 march  2019
17:26  10 march  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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A Sydney lawyer and former anti-drugs campaigner has been disqualified from the profession after being found guilty of drug supply charges.

'The hallmarks of tragedy': Sydney lawyer disqualified after drug conviction© Peter Rae A Sydney lawyer has been struck off the Law Society of NSW's registry. Ugo Parente, was convicted of three counts of supplying prohibited drugs and sentenced to four years jail in 2016 after a traffic stop found 100 MDMA tablets and cash in his vehicle. A later search of his house found more drugs.

In a Court of Appeal Supreme Court judgment, Justice Paul Brereton said the case “bears the hallmarks of tragedy,” that such a high-achiever could fall so far.

The Council of the Law Society of NSW sought to have Parente removed from the roll of Australian lawyers arguing he was not a fit and proper person.

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The court heard, Parente was a young man of considerable academic ability, a school dux and held in such high regard by his colleagues he was elected to professional boards, before he succumbed to addiction.

“[He] was commended by a prime minister and a premier for his commitment to and leadership of anti-drugs campaigns,” Justice Brereton said.

His slide into drugs was blamed on the breakdown of a relationship and the pressures of work which led to, “depression, experimentation with and then addiction to the drugs he had so despised, and finally to engaging in small scale dealing to sustain his habit,” the judge said.

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Parente, had been a criminal lawyer at Marsdens Law Group in Liverpool after being admitted in 2006. A partner at his former firm described him as a "diligent and competent lawyer."

Although not every conviction that results in a prison sentence means a person is “incompatible with membership of the profession”, Parente’s conduct impacted the wider community and put his clients at risk, the court found.

“While his misconduct was not in the course of the practice of law, it was not without impact on others; not only did his performance deteriorate, involving at least risk to his clients,” Justice Brereton said.

The court ordered Parente be removed from the roll, but said the matter was not a “conclusion [which] should be regarded as foreclosing” if he turns his life around.

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