Lawyer’s coke drop a ‘blemish’

 

A CRIMINAL lawyer who dropped a bag of cocaine out of his pocket while working at a Brisbane courthouse and pleaded guilty to drug possession has now been publicly reprimanded.

Corey Cullen, 30, was at Brisbane Magistrates Court, representing a client on August 30, last year, when a clip-seal bag fell from his pocket, as he was leaving the court.

The bag was later found to contain 1.46 grams of cocaine and on November 27, last year, the Cullen Lawyers director pleaded guilty to drug possession.

He was sentenced to serve 80 hours of unpaid community service.

The Legal Services Commissioner brought two disciplinary charges against Cullen.

They were over his conviction for a serious offence, although the conviction was not recorded, and for conduct which the LSC said brought the profession into disrepute.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal President, Justice Martin Daubney, found Cullen's conduct was unsatisfactory professional conduct, not the more serious professional misconduct.

Lawyer Corey Cullen. Picture: Liam Kidston
Lawyer Corey Cullen. Picture: Liam Kidston

The tribunal heard Cullen had been significantly embarrassed professionally and publicly because of media stories about his "unintentional possession'' of cocaine at the courthouse.

"The tribunal cannot, however, place a significant amount of weight on that factor, simply because that is what happens when you do stupid, illegal things,'' Justice Daubney said.

The tribunal heard that at the time of the offence Cullen had been under significant stress and had been binge-drinking and using cocaine one night.

He had forgotten about the rest of the cocaine in the clip-seal bag, which he left in his suit trouser pocket.

When he next wore the trousers to work, the drug bag fell out when he put his hand in his pocket at court.

Cullen was sentenced on the basis that he had unintentionally taken drugs to the court, but had been reckless.

The tribunal heard of the significant mental anguish Cullen suffered after the death of his brother in 2015, which had an impact on his ability to cope with stress.

A psychologist said Cullen did not appear to have a drug problem.

Justice Daubney said Cullen's possession of the drug was serious, but was not of such an egregious character as to warrant a finding of professional misconduct.

He said Cullen had taken steps to address mental health issues.

Cullen gave an undertaking to provide evidence of ongoing counselling and quarterly urine testing for drugs over the next two years, when applying to renew his practising certificate.

Justice Daubney said the public reprimand would stand as a permanent blemish on Cullen's professional record.

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Lawyer's coke drop a 'blemish'



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