Attorney-at-law Norman Leroy Lynch will spend another five years in prison for swindling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the beneficiaries of a deceased client.
Declaring that such behaviour must not go unpunished, Justice Randall Worrell imposed a nine-year starting prison sentence on the lawyer who was convicted of theft and money laundering a year ago. However, with the time Lynch spent on remand and other factors taken into consideration, he only has five more years of that sentence to serve at Dodds Prison.
“This court is of the opinion that type of conduct in this matter must be frowned upon and any sentence should also be construed as . . . a measure of protection to the public from these types of matters,” Justice Worrell said as the convicted thief, clad in a dark blue dress shirt and black slacks, stood emotionless in the dock of the No. 2 Supreme Court.
In May last year, Lynch was found guilty of stealing $407 634, which were the proceeds of a FirstCaribbean International Bank cheque made payable to him and belonging to the estate of Arthur O’Neal Thomas, between June 22, 2007, and December 21, 2008.
He was also convicted of stealing $50 000 belonging to the same estate between August 18, 2005, and December 21, 2008, as well as money laundering, in that he disposed of $457 634, being the proceeds of crime, also between June 22, 2007, and December 21, 2008.
“In this particular case, there was, in effect, a breach of trust in your position as the attorney-at-law for the estate and the sum of $457 000 has been lost to the estate,” Justice Worrell stated.
“I particularly [point] to what was contained in the victim impact statement . . . and this is what was said: ‘If I think of a phrase to describe how this incident has affected my family, it would be continuously devastating, stressful and traumatic’.
“So, it is quite clear this has had an effect on the beneficiaries of the estate of Mr Thomas who was a client of yours – at least the estate was a client of yours – so the beneficiaries were, therefore, basically the persons to receive the $457 000 which has been, it would appear, apparently lost to the estate. No prospect of repayment to the beneficiaries of the estate looms. The victim impact statement . . . clearly indicates the pain caused by the loss and non-repayment,” the judge added.
Lynch, who is in his 70s, issued an apology to the court in February this year.
“I am sorry about what transpired . . . but . . . I don’t recall anything very much at all,” he said.
Defence attorney Marlon Gordon had previously told that court that Lynch was a “man without means” and, as such, was not in a position to repay the parties involved in the matter.
“In your case, it is highly unlikely, based on what your counsel has said, that you will return to practice or the practice of law. The protection of the public does not arise but clearly, the deterrent effect would arise in respect of this particular matter,” the judge said.
On the convictions for the theft of $407 634 and money laundering of $457 634, Lynch was given a starting sentence of nine years. The starting point for the $50 000 theft was 24 months.
The judge then took into consideration Lynch’s age, the fact that he had no previous convictions and the assessment that he was at low risk of reoffending.
“This court is of the opinion that a downward movement of the starting point of nine years by one year should properly and reasonably reflect the court’s consideration of the mitigating features to yourself,” he said.
From the resulting eight years or 2 920 days, Justice Worrell deducted the time that Lynch had already spent on remand, which was 613 days. Another 450 days were deducted for the delay in having the matter adjudicated, leaving Lynch with 1 857 days left to spend in jail. That is a concurrent sentence for the theft and money laundering of the larger amounts.
For the theft of $50 000, Lynch was given a sentence of time served.
He is the fourth lawyer in Barbados to be jailed in recent years for stealing clients’ money.