By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
A former male escort who pleaded guilty to having sex with a minor has won the right to apply for admission as a lawyer.
The law graduate, known only as KMB, successfully appealed a decision by the Queensland Legal Practitioner Admissions Board (LPAB), who had ruled he was not a ‘fit and proper’ person to practise law.
KMB graduated from Queensland University of Technology with first class honours, after having pleaded guilty to sex offences nearly a decade earlier.
He later disclosed the offences to the LPAB, admitting that he was sentenced in 2008 for two counts of unlawful sodomy and two of indecent treatment of a child under sixteen.
The offences occurred during the course of his work as a male escort.
Fit and proper person
The LPAB found that KMB was not a fit and proper person to join the legal profession and refused his application on 4 October 2016.
However, the law graduate took his fight all the way to the Supreme Court which overruled that decision and decided in his favour. The court remarked:
“Section 31(3) provides that the court may consider a person to be a fit and proper person to be admitted to the legal profession despite the existence of a suitability matter, such as the commission of these offences, ‘because of the circumstances relating to the matter”.
“The circumstances, as we have related them, do not, in our view, render the appellant not a fit and proper person to be admitted”.
Sex with a minor
At the time of the offences, KMB was in his mid-twenties and had been placing advertisements in the personal section of newspapers for his services as a sex worker for male clients.
One client, whom KMB had consensual sex with, was only fifteen at the time, a fact KMB did not know until later when the young man’s father discovered text messages between the two.
Police questioned KMB over the incident, and he admitted to the encounters and failing to make sufficient enquiries as to the age of the minor. He pleaded guilty and demonstrated contrition. He had no prior criminal history.
Unlike in NSW, courts in Queensland have the power to impose a range of penalties on adults without recording convictions against them. The court ultimately placed KMB on a two year good behaviour bond and ordered him to undertake 240 hours of community service, but did not record a conviction.
The law graduate told the Supreme Court that he began working as an escort from the age of twenty but stopped shortly after being prosecuted. He then decided to pursue a career in law.
“It is not contended by the board, nor could it be contended, that these offences demonstrate such an ongoing flaw in the appellant’s character that he could not be considered a fit and proper person to be admitted”, the Supreme Court noted.
“Rather, the commission of these offences should properly be regarded as aberrant behaviour on the part of an otherwise decent young man”.
The court set aside the LPAB’s decision and cleared the way for KMB’s fresh application for admission as a lawyer.