Fallen glam lawyer struck off for drug trafficking

 

A former Gold Coast solicitor turned drug trafficker, who is currently serving a jail term, will be struck off as a lawyer.

The Legal Services Commissioner successfully prosecuted Briana Ioannides for professional misconduct, after she was convicted of serious drug trafficking offences.

In April last year, Ioannides was sentenced in the Supreme Court to eight and a half years imprisonment, after she was convicted of more than 40 drug offences, including supplying and possessing dangerous drugs.

Ioannides continued to commit offences after being charged and while she was on bail, including drug offences and breaching her bail undertaking.

The former solicitor with Gold Coast law firm Gatenby Lawyers ran a wholesale drug business and assisted others to set up drug trafficking businesses with clientele.

She disguised the size of the business through her communications, and had debts owing to her totalling as much as $268,200.

 

Briana Ioannides at a previous court appearance
Briana Ioannides at a previous court appearance

 

On December 20, 2018, Ioannides pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court of Queensland to a nine-count indictment in relation to offences committed in 2015.

In March last year she pleaded guilty to another 14 charges, including trafficking in methylamphetamine and GHB for about five months in 2016.

She was trafficking at both a wholesale and retail level, the court heard.

On April 16 last year Ioannides was convicted and sentenced to a head sentence of eight years and six months' imprisonment, with a parole eligibility date of February 20, next year.

Ioannides was admitted as a lawyer in October, 2014 and 13 months later surrendered her practising certificate to the Queensland Law Society, after her arrest.

The Legal Services Commissioner made extensive submissions at the disciplinary hearing in Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The tribunal took only 12 minutes to determine Ioannides was not a fit and proper person to practise law.

She did not contest the disciplinary charges and appeared from jail via video link.

On December 17, QCAT president Justice Martin Daubney recommended her name be removed from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Queensland.

 

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"No legal practitioner should be engaged in any criminal conduct, let alone the seriously culpable business of drug trafficking, " Justice Daubney said.

"...it would be incongruous for a person who has engaged in the conduct committed by (Ioannides), and who finds themselves in her current position, to continue to hold the court's endorsement of fitness to practise.

"Retention of her name on the roll of legal practitioners would tend to undermine community confidence in the profession and in the Court's endorsement of fit and proper practitioners."

Legal Services Commissioner Megan Mahon said the public was entitled to have confidence in the legal profession.

"The strict requirements and obligations placed on legal professionals are there to protect the public, and to ensure the community can have confidence in the administration of justice and the legal profession," Ms Mahon said.

"We are all entitled to expect that legal practitioners are of good fame and character and will not commit serious offences."

Ms Mahon said any legal professional who was convicted of a serious offence, whether it was in connection with the practice of law or not, tarnished the reputation the entire profession.

 

 

 

Originally published as Fallen glam lawyer struck off for drug trafficking