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Australia Adelaide lawyer who stole from deceased estates sentenced to nine years' jail

19:02  13 november  2019
19:02  13 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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a man wearing a suit and tie: Lawyer Stephen McNamara has been jailed for theft and fabricating evidence. (ABC News: Rebecca Opie)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Lawyer Stephen McNamara has been jailed for theft and fabricating evidence. (ABC News: Rebecca Opie)

A disgraced Adelaide lawyer who stole $850,000 from two deceased estates and fabricated documents to cover his tracks has been jailed for nine years.

Stephen McNamara will be eligible for parole in five-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of 33 charges of theft and fabricating evidence in the Adelaide District Court.

He has appealed against the guilty verdicts.

Over 18 months, McNamara drained funds from one estate worth $480,000 and used the money to pay off his mortgage, personal credits cards and staff wages.

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He then drained $500,000 from a second estate to pay the beneficiaries of the first estate, after they began mounting pressure to receive their entitlements.

The investigation into McNamara's activity was triggered when beneficiaries of the second estate issued a complaint to the Law Society of South Australia.

At the time of the offences, McNamara was the director of his law firm Commercial and General Law and had been a lawyer for more than 35 years.

He also was one of the original authors of the Law Society's Trust Account Handbook.

'Greed' a motivator according to the prosecution

During the trial, prosecutor James Slocombe told the court McNamara's actions were motivated "out of nothing more than greed".

"There's no evidence of a gambling addiction or drug addiction or some other explanation that may go some way to explaining the accused's offending," he said.

"He's a man with a great network of support, a great reputation who chose to abuse his standing in our community, to abuse his position of an officer of this court for no other purpose than to finance his own personal and business expenses.

"There were many options available to the accused to downsize his home, downsize the business, the accused hasn't done that … to greedily maintain a lifestyle."

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