Former lawyer denied anonymity in QCAT professional misconduct proceeding

A former Brisbane lawyer jailed on child pornography charges has been struck off and denied a request to have his identity suppressed.

The President of the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), Justice Martin Daubney AM, in a decision published yesterday, found Stephen James Keliher had engaged in professional misconduct in relation to four serious offences involving child pornography between 26 December 2014 and 18 November 2015, and recommended that he be removed from the state’s roll of legal practitioners.

Keliher, a former school teacher, was sentenced to 7½ years’ jail by Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Jean Dalton after pleading guilty on 8 December 2017 to making and sharing child pornography via the internet.

The court was told Keliher made child exploitation material by way of fashioning written stories which described events which had overlapped with real people in his life. He was also found to have been in possession of 8735 child exploitation images.

Justice Daubney, in a 16-page written decision, said Keliher had asked the tribunal to withhold his identity in any published finding.

“(Keliher’s) principal reason for seeking anonymisation of these reasons is to minimise embarrassment to his family,” Justice Daubney said. “That consideration does not, however, outweigh the interests of public protection which underpin these disciplinary proceedings.”

Justice Daubney said Keliher had been admitted to practice as a barrister in Queensland between July 2000 and September 2010. He then held a solicitor’s employee level practising certificate from October 2011 until he voluntarily surrendered his PC on 21 July 2017.

Queensland’s Legal Services Commission submitted to the tribunal during a hearing on 23 November last year that Keliher was not a “fit and proper person” to remain a solicitor.

Keliher submitted that he not be struck-off and that his PC should only be suspended.

Justice Daubney found: “In all the circumstances, the Tribunal has concluded that the character of (Keliher) is so indelibly marked by … misconduct that he cannot be regarded as a fit and proper person to retain membership of an honourable profession.

“His name should be struck from the roll, and the Tribunal will recommend (that) accordingly.”

Read the decision.

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