A Kerry solicitor who served a prison term for forging health insurance claim forms has been struck off the roll of solicitors.
Patrick Enright, aged 54, of Glenlarehan, Castleisland, Co Kerry, was being struck off, not as a punitive measure, but to maintain the reputation of the profession, High Court president Mr Justice Peter Kelly said.
Mr Enright, a married father, committed the offences between 1988 and 1994 when he worked as an assistant manager for US-based health insurance Nylerin.
He had qualified as a solicitor in 1986 and in 1994 left the insurance firm to set up his own legal practice.
Mr Enright believed he was entitled to a redundancy payment from Nylerin but when it did not materialise, he then forged insurance claims on 10 occasions which were paid to a post office box.
The company became suspicious and gardaí intercepted Mr Enright’s brother, Denis, collecting the payout cheques involving around €12,000 — which was eventually paid back.
Criminal proceedings against the brothers began in 1996. A number of challenges to the High and Supreme Court failed by 2008.
Mr Enright then brought a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, including on grounds related to a fair trial, which resulted in a friendly settlement between him and the State.
As a result, it was not until June 2013, that his trial at Tralee Circuit Court went ahead.
He initially pleaded not guilty but later changed it to guilty on all 10 offences. He was jailed for 12 months and served his sentence. The Law Society then sought his strike off.
Mr Enright asked that he not be struck off because he had been working as a solicitor for 21 years until he was jailed and he had represented hundreds of clients for whom there had never been a problem.
Mr Justice Kelly said he had regard to the fact that he practised as a solicitor to the complete satisfaction of the Law Society for some 20 years after the commission of the offences.
It had been argued that, in striking him off, it would “consign Mr Enright to unemployability in his chosen profession in perpetuity”.
This was not necessarily so and it was possible for a struck-off solicitor to apply for restoration to the roll of solicitors, he said.
It would be unwise to indicate the circumstances in which such an order might be made, but “normally a passage of time would occur subsequent to the strike-off order and other conditions would have to be met”, he said.
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