Lawyer suspended over child exploitation material will need to prove fitness to practise

A Brisbane lawyer convicted for child exploitation material offences will be required to undertake psychiatric treatment and provide a report as to his future fitness to practise law at the conclusion of a three-year suspension.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal President Justice Daubney AM, in a recently published decision, found Kenneth Ian Ferguson had engaged in professional misconduct and ordered that his legal practising certificate (PC) be suspended for three years from 5 November 2019.

Justice Daubney also ordered that Ferguson attend psychiatric consultations and that any future application for a PC be accompanied by a report on his mental condition and its effect on his ability to engage in the legal practice.

The tribunal was told Ferguson was convicted in November 2019 on his own plea of guilty in the District Court of Queensland of the Commonwealth offence of using a carriage service (the internet) to transmit, make available, publish, distribute, advertise ‘child pornography’ on 15 September 2018.

He was also convicted of an additional Queensland offence of possessing child exploitation material.

Justice Daubney said: “(Ferguson) came to the attention of the Queensland Police Service Task Force Argos officers when he was downloading a child (exploitation) video via a ‘peer to peer’ network.


“(Ferguson’s) download via that network also made the video available to other internet users … hence, the Commonwealth charge of using a carriage service to transmit … child pornography on that date.”

The tribunal was told subsequent analysis of Ferguson’s computers and storage drives “yielded a number of images and videos which comprised child exploitation material”.

In ordering the suspension of Ferguson’s PC for three years, Justice Daubney said: “The Tribunal finds that (Ferguson) engaged in professional misconduct.

“(The Legal Services Commissioner) submits, and (Ferguson) has expressly accepted that the Tribunal should find that (Ferguson’s) conduct should be characterised as professional misconduct.”

The tribunal was told that, as part of the District Court sentence, Ferguson was handed an 18-month, wholly suspended jail term. He was also required to give a good behaviour recognisance.

Read the decision.

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