QCAT president strikes off Gold Coast criminal lawyer jailed for drug trafficking

A former Gold Coast criminal lawyer has been struck off after being jailed for 8½ years for a swag of serious crimes including the retail and wholesale trafficking of illicit drugs GHB and methylamphetamine.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal President Martin Daubney AO on Thursday (December 17) ordered Briana Christine Ioannides, 32, be removed from Queensland’s Roll of Legal Practitioners.

Justice Daubney, in a published nine-page decision, granted an application by Queensland’s Legal Services Commission, which was not opposed by Ioannides, that she be struck off.

In April last year, Ioannides was jailed after pleading guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to 23 indictable and 21 summary criminal offences committed between November 24 and December 31, 2015.

Among her more than 40 offences were trafficking, selling and possessing drugs including methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA, GHB and steroids, as well as property and weapons crimes.

During her sentencing, Justice Debra Mullins AO said: “(Ioannides) you were a successful solicitor practising in criminal law (and) I am sure that prior to 2015 you did not envisage standing in the dock yourself and being sentenced.’’

“You exemplify what happens to a young person with a promising career who becomes addicted to drugs and you allowed your life basically to get out of control.’’

Justice Mullins jailed Ioannides — who had already served about eight months in custody at the time her sentencing — for eight years and six-months, but ordered she be considered eligible for parole from February 20 next year (2021).

Justice Daubney, in his reasons for Ioannides being struck off, said QCAT must have a primary regard to the need to protect the public from unsuitable legal practitioners and ensure maintenance of proper professional standards.

“As to (Ioannides’) suitability for membership of the profession, the Tribunal’s view is that her conduct provides ‘instant demonstration of unfitness’ for membership of the legal profession,’’ Justice Daubney said.

“It is not just a question of the fact that (Ioannides) committed the very serious offence of drug trafficking, although that is highly relevant.

“(However, her) charged conduct as a whole, including that revealed by the criminal offending, bespeaks a character which lacks integrity, or at least the high standard of integrity required of all legal practitioners.

“She persistently broke the law, and did so even after having been dealt with for related forms of offending.

“She repeatedly flouted the law, and in so doing demonstrated a character which had no respect for the fundamental obligation of all legal practitioners to protect and maintain the rule of law.

“Her conduct demonstrates that she is a person who, at this point in time, cannot be trusted by clients, fellow practitioners, the judiciary, or the public at large. The courts, the legal profession, and the public depend on maintenance of the highest standards of integrity in the legal profession.’’

Justice Daubney said it would be incongruous for a person who engaged in the conduct committed by Ioannides to continue to hold the Court’s endorsement of fitness to practice.

Ioannides was also ordered to the LSC’s disciplinary application costs.

Read decision here: https://archive.sclqld.org.au/qjudgment/2020/QCAT20-479.pdf

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