Law: Briefs

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The Independent Online
REMEMBER JONATHAN Brierley, the 16-stone solicitor advocate who sexually assaulted a dinner guest as she slept next to her fiance? Last week, a judge - told of his excessive drinking and domestic problems - took pity on him and allowed him to serve out a two-year probation order rather than go to prison.

Brierley was convicted by a jury last month of indecently assaulting the 24-year-old who, with her fiance, spent the night at Brierley's home last summer after a party at which the trio drank 11 bottles of red wine. Describing Brierley as "physically repulsive", his victim said he fondled her breasts and assaulted her before her fiance suddenly woke up and angrily confronted him after switching on the light. During his trial Brierley claimed the woman had given him the "come on" with her flirtatious behaviour earlier in the evening at his six-bedroomed Victorian home in Penarth, South Wales. He claimed she had responded to his kisses in the bedroom and was consenting before her boyfriend woke up.

But sentencing him at Swansea Crown Court, Judge Christopher Morton said the evidence was clear that his victim was "not in a fit enough state to agree to anything because of drink".

While he considered the offence serious enough to "cross the custody threshold", the judge said the public would be "better served" by a non- custodial sentence.

A MAN made legal history yesterday by becoming the first person in the country to face a trial for being drunk in charge of a motorised skateboard. Businessman Martin Jones, 24, from Swindon, was arrested by police as he rode the machine - called a Go-Ped - along the pavement earlier this year. He denies being drunk in charge of a motorised vehicle. A spokesman for the Lord Chancellor's Department said he believed that this was the first case of its kind to be the subject of a criminal prosecution. "We certainly haven't heard of another," he added cautiously.

NOT KNOWN for too many weak deliveries this parliamentary session, Conservative Graham Brady MP gifted a ball to Keith Vaz last week. The Member of Parliament for Altringham and Sale asked the parliamentary secretary for the Lord Chancellor's Department how many questions had been tabled to his department for written answer and what percentage of them had received a substantive response on that day. Hooking for six one of the easiest balls in his short spell at the LCD crease, Mr Vaz replied that since 15 April 1999, 21 parliamentary questions for written answer on a named day had been tabled to the LCD, with 100 per cent receiving a substantive response on that day.

THE LONG-RUNNING contest to see which former Law Society official would carry off the prize of super-ombudsman for the City has been won by Walter Merricks. Mr Merricks, insurance ombudsman and the former director of policy at the Law Society, beat off former Law Society president and personal investment ombudsman Tony Holland, and David Thomas, former Law Society council member and banking ombudsman.