Man found guilty of impersonating barrister in court

 

A man has been found guilty of impersonating a qualified barrister at crown court after he donned a wig and robe to represent a friend he met in prison.

David Sydney Evans strolled into Plymouth Crown Court dressed in court attire, gained access to the advocates' dressing room and visited his "client" in the cells.

But the 57-year-old was rumbled by the court's judge because of discrepancies in his clothing and a series of "hopelessly wrong" legal submissions.

The jury at Bristol Crown Court found Evans guilty of carrying out a reserved legal activity when not entitled and wilfully pretending to be a person with a right of audience.

Evans, wearing a grey suit, showed no emotion as the jury of five men and seven women returned the unanimous verdict in 30 minutes after also hearing he had previous convictions for a similar offence.

He was serving a sentence for obtaining money by deception at Dartmoor prison when he met cannabis producer Terry Moss, the man he tried to represent during a proceeds of crime hearing.

The honourable Mrs Justice Laura Cox adjourned the case for sentencing on a date to be fixed.

Evans, of Culver Close, Penarth, South Wales, was remanded into custody with a bail application due to take place later today.

Evans had been purporting to represent Mr Moss during a complex proceeds of crime case.

Mr Moss, having sacked two separate legal teams, was "desperate" for someone to help him.

During Evans's trial, Mr Moss told the court he was "one of a few people" he could talk to in prison and described him as "reasonably well versed" and "able to refer to the law".

Through his barrister Evans, who did not give evidence during his trial, tried to claim he was representing Mr Moss as "lay counsel" and was simply trying to "help" his friend.

But the court heard the conman, who had no legal training, had sent a number of headed letters to Truro and Plymouth crown courts while he was still in prison stating he was a "senior advocate".

In one letter he claimed his office would be "closed" until July 12 2010 - the date he was due to be released.

Evans made several legal applications, asking for time extensions and adjournments and also sent a skeleton legal argument to the prosecution.

He even went to the length of getting Mr Moss's sister to buy him a solicitor's gown and barrister's wig before appearing in front of Judge Stephen Wildblood QC on August 17 2010.

Kenneth Bell, prosecuting, said Evans was "not naive" and had repeatedly pretended to the court that he was a trained barrister.

"He knew perfectly well that he was not entitled to go to court, put on a solicitor's gown, put the collar and the bands on, put the wig on and stand in court to represent Mr Moss but he did so," Mr Bell said.

"At no time did Judge Wildblood know that Mr Evans was unqualified, he only found out after persistently asking Mr Evans to tell him about his qualifications."

Giving evidence, Judge Wildblood, who was due to oversee the confiscation order relating to the drugs produced by Moss, told the court Evans had made a series of legal assertions which were "wrong in an elementary way".

When Evans appeared before him, Judge Wildblood said Evans' appearance had struck him "immediately as strange".

"I believed Mr Evans to be a member of the Bar so to come in to see someone in a solicitor's gown and a barrister wig struck as a surprise," he said.

The Judge, who sits in Truro, Plymouth and Exeter crown courts and has 32 years legal experience, made inquiries of the Law Society and the Bar Council, which covers barristers, but found no record of Evans.

When he asked the man before him what his legal qualifications were, the Judge told the court he was stunned when Evans admitted he had "none".

It was after this that Evans was exposed but he was allowed to stay in court to represent Moss as a "McKenzie friend" - somebody who can assist a defendant in representing themselves in court.

The confiscation hearing was adjourned until October 1 2010 when Mr Moss, who was jailed for four-and-a-half years after he admitted growing cannabis at his home in Cornwall, appeared for his proceeds of crime hearing and had £70,000 removed from his assets.

Evans befriended Mr Moss in Dartmoor prison while serving time for various offences of obtaining money by deception.

He dishonestly obtained services from Werndale Hospital, near Carmarthen in Wales, where he held eight consultations with four different patients pretending to be a clinical psychologist.

He had previously submitted a CV to the hospital stating he had nine GCSEs, a masters degree in psychology and previous employment with North Devon District Council.

Summing up the evidence heard over the three-day trial, Mrs Justice Cox said his previous convictions could show a "tendency to commit offences of the kind (with which) he is now charged".

PA

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
art
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Travel
travel
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Sport
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices