Lawyers breaking the law tend to make it into the news. So when a 35 year old man was sentenced for sexual assault (and racially aggravated common assault) following his behaviour at a Christmas Party in 2015, this would probably have passed unnoticed had he not been a city solicitor.
Alastair Main was the former rowing captain of the London Rowing Club. On 16th December 2015 he was at the Rowing Club, where it seems that he had been drinking.
He approached the victim (who’s name cannot be published) and asked her for a hug. When she declined, he got angry, calling her a ‘slut’ and ‘referenced her nationality‘, whilst pouring a beer over her (this would be the racially aggravated common assault). According to Legal Cheek, the exact term of abuse used was ‘Australian slut’.
After that, “he had smacked the woman about five times on the backside after following her into the ladies’ toilets“.
There was a trial in the Magistrates’ Court (unusual in itself for a case such as this – many people would have elected trial by jury) at which Mr Main accepted calling her a slut, but denied the Australian part (or at least that there was racial motivation. In relation to the ‘bum slap’, he accepted that, but said that this was ‘cheeky’, and he had followed her into the toilet to apologise to her for pouring beer on her.
Mr Main was convicted earlier this month.
The sexual assault is the more serious charge. This is governed by the Sentencing Guidelines (page 17). Although there is the separate charge of racially aggravated assault, this is a Cat 3B offence, with a starting point of a Community Order.
The 12 month Community Order that Mr Main received is therefore well in line with what we would expect. In addition, there was a Restraining Order for 5 years in favour of the victim, and he had to pay £1,000 costs and the £85 victim surcharge. Again, this is what we would have expected.
In addition (and this is automatic), Mr Main will be subject to the Sex Offenders Register for 5 years.
Of course, the consequences for Mr Main run deeper than that – he lost his job when convicted and will likely be struck off as a solicitor.
This was part of the mitigation that was put forward of course. Apparently Mr Main has an 8 week old baby, but as “the family breadwinner, had lost his job, sold his car and would most likely have to sell his home.”
There is an automatic right to appeal the conviction to the Crown Court, and given the above, it would not be a surprise if Mr Main exercises that (and, given the above defence, it would not be surprising if that appeal was dismissed), but we will see.
It is sometimes thought by people that lawyers, or other ‘establishment types’ get a free pass by the courts – hopefully cases like this show that that is not the case.