November 3, 2020 4.32 pm This story is over 41 months old

Lincoln’s Walter Mitty jailed in fake barrister scam

Judge walked out after scammer shouted at him

A Walter Mitty character with no legal qualifications has been jailed for six months after representing a woman in a child custody court hearing claiming to be a trainee barrister.

Tyrone Wright, who was a graduate in graphic design, charged the woman £1,400 to represent her at the hearing where she was appealing against a decision to take her children from her.

The judge in that case refused to allow Wright to address him and eventually walked out of court after Wright began shouting at him.

Lincoln Crown Court was told that afterwards Wright boasted to his client about how well the hearing had gone.

But she was distraught as her appeal was thrown out and her hopes of regaining custody of her children were shattered.

Christopher Jeyes, prosecuting, told the court: “The hearing did not go well and the woman’s application was dismissed.

“The defendant wanted to speak at the hearing but the judge made it very clear that he couldn’t so the defendant made his displeasure clear to the judge which didn’t help matters.”

As a result, the woman made a complaint to police and the subsequent investigation revealed that despite describing himself as a trainee barrister who had passed his General Diploma in Law (GDL), Wright had no legal qualifications.

Mr Jeyes said: “She had prepared herself for the County Court hearing in Hull but felt she needed more assistance. She turned to Facebook and someone suggested this defendant might be able to help her out.”

The woman contacted Wright via his “Tyrone Wright Legal” email address and discussed her situation with him.

“He said the matter was appealable on Human Rights grounds. He said that he was a barrister in training. On the Parents Against Injustice website there was an advertisement of sorts for his services.”

The woman also spoke to Wright about another civil legal dispute she was involved in with Sheffield Hallam University and after handing over an initial £250 fee she made a further payment to him of £1,000 and then another £150. After she complained he refunded £900 of the fee.

As part of the court process Wright submitted a form claiming he had legal qualifications including a GDL.

“He described himself as a highly effective court assistant and advocate who was training as a barrister having completed his GDL. He said he was studying for a Masters in Law at the Open University and York.

“As far as the Crown is aware the defendant does not have these legal qualifications. He has never sat the GDL. He did enrol with the Open University but has not completed any modules,” said Mr Jeyes.

Wright later admitted his qualifications were a BA in Graphic Design and an MA in 3D Design.

Wright, 49, of Broughton Gardens, Lincoln, admitted a charge brought under section 181 of the Legal Services Act of being an unqualified person pretending to be a barrister on dates between February 22 and June 22, 2019. He was jailed for six months.

Recorder Graham Huston, passing sentence, said: “The judge would not allow you to address the court. You shouted at the judge and the judge walked out.

“Afterwards you told the woman how proud you were at how you conducted yourself.

“She told you that she could not believe you had spoken to the judge like that. She was clearly very upset.

“People who need representation are by definition vulnerable. They need to be able to rely on the integrity of those who take their money from them.”

Recorder Huston added: “There is an element of you being a bit of a Walter Mitty character.

“It is clear you are a highly articulate and intelligent man, but as far as legal credentials are concerned, you have none.

“The complainant quite rightly believes that she was conned by you and deceived out of her money. Her hopes were raised without foundation but any qualified lawyer would have advised her that her rights to appeal had been exhausted.

“You meddled in this woman’s life and have caused her real damage. This is an offence that has caused serious harm to a vulnerable woman.”

Edward McKiernan, in mitigation, urged that Wright should not be given a prison sentence as it would ruin his continuing hopes of qualifying as a barrister.

“He is not a common criminal. He has brought himself to this unhappy position,” said Mr McKiernan.