21 Jun 2012

Northland lawyer struck off for stealing client funds

8:51 am on 21 June 2012

A lawyer has been thrown out of the legal profession for stealing money from clients in the Far North.

Junior Witehira has been struck off the roll of barristers and solicitors by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal.

Regulators found he took nearly $24,000 from two clients in 2010.

Mr Witehira initially denied stealing the money while practising at his former firm Far North Law.

In his defence, Junior Witehira said he was experiencing difficulties receiving payment from the Legal Services Agency which created cash flow problems.

He said the day he stole the funds he was under pressure to repay an overdraft, and it was a spur of the moment decision.

But the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal refused to accept it was a single spur of the moment lapse of judgement, ruling it was clear dishonesty that was deliberate and planned.

The tribunal says Mr Witehira breached the trust of his clients and he's been struck off because

he not a fit and proper person to practice law.

The names of the people who blew the whistle are permanently suppressed.