An attorney-at-law expressed her outrage at a bearer who pretended to be a lawyer to siphon $300,000 from a woman looking to acquire a land title when he appeared in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court on Tuesday.
The man in question, Christopher Fielding, had pleaded guilty to the charge of obtaining money by false pretence when he had first appeared in court. He returned to court on Tuesday to pay restitution to the complainant.
Attorney-at-law Ayesha Robb-Cunningham said that she believed it to be very unfortunate that people are charading as lawyers for financial gain.
"I do not think that the court, as an officer of this court, and I would say as a mentor of this noble profession, a profession that we are still trying to keep in a noble way, should really have matters of this nature affecting the profession," Robb-Cunningham said.
"Your Honour, it is very unfortunate that persons are charading and pretending to be attorneys-at-law. Not only does it bring the profession into disrepute, but when counsel who are perhaps new at the Bar and potential clients approach them, they have to do a proper investigation. Too often we have these situations arising," Robb-Cunningham continued.
She added that she believes that it is regrettable that a bearer is collecting large sums of money from someone and "purporting to be an attorney-at-law."
"It does not sit well with the profession, Your Honour, because we have to train very long sleepless nights, it was not easy," Robb-Cunningham said, noting that the accused treated the profession as a "patty shop."
Fielding had agreed to pay full restitution on Tuesday in the
sum of $300,000, but when he did not present the amount, and only handed over $40,000, he was advised that he would be remanded in custody.
"I need some time, Your Honour," he said.
"It's the money you need, not time… if you did even come with $80,000 that would be a better start. Pretending to be a lawyer," Senior Parish Judge Lori-Ann Cole-Montague said.
Showing the man a little mercy, the judge asked him if he was able to call someone to bring another $40,000 to the court on his behalf. But, he indicated that this was impossible.
"By November I can come with more payment," Fielding said.
Not having this, Cole-Montague said, "Sir, a whole heap a money you took from the lady, you know."
Turning to the complainant, the judge asked about the number of instalments she made when she paid him.
"I pay him $150,000 first, then another $150,000," she said.
"The same way him get the money is the same way restitution should be paid," Cole-Montague said.
"Despite what people think I don't take delight in locking up people," she continued.
With no more money forthcoming, Fielding was taken into police custody.
Speaking up for the first time, the investigating officer told the judge that there are other victims connected to Fielding.
The judge then turned to Fielding and asked, "how long did you think you would've been able to do this? Did you ever consider that?"
This was met with silence, however.
He is scheduled to return to court on September 27.