High profile lawyer committed to stand trial
ONE of the state's most high profile lawyers has been committed to stand trial in the District Court over allegations he took illegal cash payments from clients and fraudulently falsified records.
Lawyer Michael Bosscher, solicitor Alexander Ralston Jones and law clerk Thomas William Strofield were charged in 2017 after a Crime and Corruption Commission investigation targeting suspected criminal activity in the Queensland legal industry.
The Bosscher Lawyers trio were each charged with an offence of aggravated fraud and Bosscher was hit with a further eight charges of fraudulent falsification of records.
The crown alleges the men took hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash payments from clients instead of funnelling money through the appropriate company accounts.
A fourth employee, lawyer Timothy Meehan has already been jailed for his part in the alleged fraud and gave evidence to the CCC against his former boss and colleagues after he was sacked from the firm.
After a committal hearing began in September, the case came before the court again for decision today where Magistrate Carolyn Hunstman ordered the matter proceed to trial.
During the committal, the court heard evidence from Mr Meehan and his then law clerk and lover Xanthe Larcombe-Weate who was also sacked from the firm.
"The crown does place reliance on the evidence of Mr Meehan and also the evidence of Ms Larcombe-Weate," Magistrate Huntsman said.
"The defence submits that they are witnesses so thoroughly lacking in credit that I could not be satisfied that any jury properly instructed could convict based on their evidence.
"The defence also submit the timing of Mr Meehan's approach to the CCC shows his motivation to lie to save himself and defence submit that Mr Meehan is motivated by malice also towards Mr Michael Bosscher."
During a fiery cross examination in September, Meehan denied comments from Bosscher's barrister that he accused the men of involvement in the crime as an act of revenge.
"The direct evidence in this case includes financial records, there is also the text messages, the witness statements from clients, employees of Bosscher Lawyers, there is also the statements of Mr Meehan and Ms Larcombe-Weate," Ms Huntsman said.
"It is conceded and I find there are credibility issues arising in relation to the evidence of Mr Meehan and Ms Larcombe Weate.
"These matters as to whether his evidence is truthful and reliable are properly matters
for the jury."
Ms Huntsman said the crown case consisted of 186 witness statements and 553 exhibits.
"In assessing credibility of Meehan's account, it is the case that circumstantial evidence consistent with his account may be considered by a jury properly instructed as corroborative evidence," she said.
The magistrate said there was evidence "consistent with Meehan's account" including evidence of cash payments, statements from witnesses including employees and clients and text messages between people including Meehan and Jones.
"Those messages have real consistency with Meehan's account that there was an agreement between them that cash would be split three ways rather than paid into the Bosscher Lawyers bank accounts," she said.
"This in the context of all other evidence in the crown case is evidence upon which a jury properly instructed could convict Mr Jones and Mar Bosscher of the first charge."
Bosscher, Jones and Meehan were all committed to stand trial in the Brisbane District Court at a date to be set.
The case was presided over by New South Wales Magistrates Carolyn Huntsman to avoid conflicts of interest for Queensland Magistrates.