We looked last month at the case of Monika Juneja, who pleaded guilty to impersonating a barrister (amongst other charges). On 15th June 2015, she was sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years, on the condition that she undertakes 200 hours unpaid work, at the Old Bailey.
According to the BBC, Ms Juneja “forged a degree to secure a place at law school and after failing the course, falsified documents to suggest she was competent in law”.
It is fair to say that the reports last time did not make this clear – the offending is more serious than it at first appeared.
We don’t have the sentencing remarks, and it is doubtful that they will be in a case like this.
There are Sentencing Guidelines for fraud, but we would suggest that they don’t really cover a case like this, not least because it is very difficult to calculate the ‘loss’ – what Ms Juneja gained was the opportunity to work. It is unclear to what extent the work that she undoubtedly did was poorly performed, but it is wrong to characterise everything that she earned as the ‘benefit’ of the fraud.
Here, although she was dishonest over a long period of time, given that she had never been in trouble before, presents no future risk, and this will have such a large impact on her future employability, one can see the sense in not sending her to prison.
Other Judges could have done, and she could probably not have successfully appealed had she been locked up, but it seems to me that this is a fair and humane way of dealing with it.