A former Maple Ridge lawyer has been barred from practising law anywhere in Canada for 10 years.
A hearing panel found that David Andrew Riddell committed conduct unbecoming of the profession after he plead guilty in court on Sept. 9, 2019, to the possession of child pornography between Jan. 1, 2015 and July 4, 2017, and was sentenced to a nine-month conditional sentence.
When he was sentenced on Feb. 24, 2020, the 50-year-old was also put on 15-months probation following his conditional sentence, in addition to providing a DNA sample to police.
A charge of making pornography – dating back to Aug. 17, 2016 – was stayed at the sentencing.
In addition, during the 10 years, Riddell is: not allowed to apply for re-admission to the Law Society of British Columbia or elsewhere across Canada; he is not allowed to apply for membership in any other law society without first advising the Law Society of B.C. in writing; he cannot practise law in the province – with or without the expectation of a fee, gain, or reward – until he is a member in good standing with the Law Society of B.C.; and he may not work and his name must not appear on the letterhead of any law firm in the province or for any lawyer, without getting prior written consent of the Discipline Committee of the Law Society of B.C..
Conduct unbecoming the profession is defined in the Legal Profession Act as conduct that is judged by Benchers or a panel, to be “contrary to the best interest of the public or the legal profession, or causes harm to the standing of the legal profession.” Referring specifically to matters that are in a lawyer’s private life.
The panel, in this case, said they agreed with the counsel for the Law Society that this was an “obvious case”.
“The Respondent viewed and accessed pornographic material involving young children on several devices over a lengthy period of time, namely, January 2015 to July 2017. He was charged criminally, convicted and sentenced. This is clearly conduct that causes harm to the standing of the legal profession, and we have no hesitation in finding that the Law Society has proven the conduct and that it constitutes conduct unbecoming the profession,” said the panel.
RCMP were first alerted to Riddell by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and on July 4, 2017 with a warrant, they searched Riddell’s home finding a USB device containing several images along with two videos containing child pornography.
Riddell has agreed to the 10-year discipline sanction that started Jan. 27, 2022.
The committee noted they considered Riddell’s mental health issues for which he has received extensive counselling, as well as protection of the public by Riddell not being permitted to practise for a lengthy period of time.
“Should he wish to apply for reinstatement to the Law Society when his undertaking expires on January 27, 2032, he will have to satisfy the Law Society’s Credentials Committee that he is of sufficiently good character and repute to practise law in BC and adhere to any conditions the credentials panel may impose,” said the panel.
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