A lawyer who bilked three of his clients out of $483,000 from compensation awards has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

Puisne Judge Juan Wolffe, in his written ruling, said Tyrone Quinn, 37, “coldly abused and continues to abuse that trust and faith in order to selfishly line his own pockets”.

The disgraced lawyer was found guilty of three counts of theft by a unanimous verdict back in November.

The court heard that despite the fact that Quinn maintained that he fully intended to repay his clients, none of the stolen funds had been returned at the time of his sentencing in March.

Justice Wolffe said the evidence presented in this case raised several questions – most notably:

  • Why Quinn would steal from vulnerable victims
  • Why he failed to repay the funds; and
  • Why he claimed to have acted under duress while admitting that $140,000 of the funds were spent in ways unrelated to purported threats

On that note, he said: “There is only one answer to all of those questions.

“It is because the defendant was and still is intent on exhausting every legal and procedural mechanisms available to him, and not available to him, in order to escape criminality, which included a baseless abuse of process application and an equally unsubstantiated application for me to recuse myself from this matter.

“He used his extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system and of the jury trial process to try and absolve himself of any blame for what he unambiguously did to his victims and of having to pay any of his victims who had put their endearing trust and faith in him to relieve them of what must have been and probably still is excruciating physical, emotional and financial pain.

During Quinn’s trial, which was held between May 2020 and February 2021, the court heard that he received awards for clients in three separate matters.

Two received a small portion of the funds awarded to them – the third client received nothing at all.

The lawyer confirmed that he received the funds in court, saying he had no intention of depriving his clients of their money permanently.

But he told the court that he was approached by two men in 2019 over what he said was a “problem” with an illegal business transaction. And those two men, he said, demanded compensation.

He also told the court that even though he did not know the two men, or anything about their “problem”, he complied with their demands after they threatened him and his family.

Those payments, he said, amounted to thousands of dollars.

Justice Wolffe, on hearing the verdict, said the unanimous ruling showed that the jury dismissed Quinn’s defence as “absolute hogwash”.

While Quinn maintained his story during the sentencing hearing, the judge said he failed to provide sufficient evidence to support it.

“Any evidence which the defendant may have uttered in this regard was riddled with inconsistencies and implausibility.

“All of this blindingly illustrated that the trial was a monumental waste of the court’s and the jury’s time,” he wrote in his ruling.

Although he gave the lawyer credit for his clean record, he noted that Quinn had shown no real signs of remorse.

On top of that, he said Quinn tried to absolve himself of blame for what his clients suffered.

Justice Wolffe sentenced Quinn to eight years for the theft of $300,000, five years for the theft of $96,000 and 4½ years for the theft of $87,000.

While noting that the sentences should run consecutively because they affected three different victims at different times, he said a total sentence of 17½ years would be excessive.

As a result, he said the sentence was adjusted it to 15 years.

A report on Quinn’s assets was also ordered to help determine whether or not a confiscation order should be made to help the victims recoup their losses.

“Of course, whether or not a confiscation order should eventually be made against the defendant may be an issue for another time,” Mr Justice Wolffe added.

“To this end, the court which is called upon to consider whether a confiscation order should be made will no doubt determine whether or not the defendant has benefited from stealing $483,000 from his victims before making such order.”