Lawyer convicted for breaching trust

by Sol Dolor03 Aug 2016
Lawyer Richard Henry Hill has been sentenced to serve eight months of home detention and 100 hours of community work for breaching the trust of clients.

The Napier lawyer was sentenced last week, a Stuff report said, and Napier District Court Judge Michael Crosbie the lawyer “knowingly and dishonestly converted client funds" from the McKay Hill partnership in an unauthorised manner.”

The conversion was made to cover firm expenses including wages and partners’ drawings, the judge said in his sentencing notes.

Hill, who’s 70-years-old, showed remorse and has a “very public fall from grace,” the judge said.
“The impression I gained was that you were effectively using your clients' funds as your banker,” said Crosbie.

“The conviction alone will carry more weight for you than many, as it often does for offenders who have led an otherwise exemplary life and are well known in the community.”

Hill also had no relevant prior convictions, the judge noted.

These factors along with the health of Hill’s wife who’s battling Alzheimer’s disease brought down the sentence from 24 months to 18 months. Hill is the primary caregiver of his wife.

From 18 months, the sentence was reduced to 8 months after 100 hours of community service was required of Hill.

According to Stuff, the judge also considered the case of Hill’s former colleague Gerald George McKay.

McKay, who was also a partner of the McKay Hill firm, stole $556,000 from clients’ trust fund accounts and estates and showed no remorse for the actions he was convicted of.

“Unlike your former partner Mr. McKay, it is not suggested that you are responsible for any loss of clients' funds,” said Crosbie.

McKay has been struck off the roll while Hill still has a practising license.