A Canberra lawyer on trial accused of fraud had the trust of his client’s mother, who found herself in an unknown environment looking for anybody who could help, a prosecutor has told the court.
Stephen Raymond Stubbs, 63, is facing 15 charges in the ACT Supreme Court, relating to allegations he dishonestly demanded $30,000 from Anne Duffy and $4000 from Legal Aid ACT, a funding service for low-income people facing criminal charges.
Ms Duffy’s son Alexander Duffy had been charged with assault and acts endangering life in late 2008, charges later upgraded to the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
Duffy applied for and was granted Legal Aid, nominating Stubbs as his preferred lawyer. It’s alleged Stubbs kept both Ms Duffy and the funding service in the dark about each other’s contributions to the man’s defence.
The Crown made its closing submissions to the jury on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Katrina McKenzie said the crux of the case was what the Crown said was deceptive behaviour by Stubbs. She said he had made positive statements to both Legal Aid and Ms Duffy, telling both the other did not exist as a source of funding.
She said Ms Duffy had said Mr Stubbs told her directly that her son did not have a grant of Legal Aid. The woman had trusted Stubbs, and she was “grasping at anyone to help anywhere”, the prosecutor said.
“They had no prior experience of what they were dealing with.
“In an environment they didn’t understand, no one explained the court process to them. Mrs Duffy trusted the accused … he was their lawyer. He was representing her son.
“[Stubbs] knew full well … Alexander Duffy had Legal Aid assistance.”
Stubbs knew how the system worked, she said, and had achieved distinctions or higher in ethics and legal accounting at university.
Ms McKenzie said Stubbs told Legal Aid in emails “our firm is out of pocket” in the Duffy matter, and “Mrs Duffy doesn’t support him at all”.
She said this was while he was receiving thousands from Ms Duffy.
He had told barrister Richard Thomas that the matter was privately funded, the prosecutor said, also keeping him in the dark.
Stubbs does not deny receiving most of the payments, save for a $5000 cash payment in dispute, but has argued it was for work done outside the grant of funding, for unfunded bail applications and private matters relating to other investigations against the Duffys.
Ms McKenzie said those arguments had been countered by evidence called by the Crown. It was prohibited for lawyers to accept money from other sources once a grant of funding had been made, she said. The court had also heard evidence neither Duffy or his mother were suspects in other criminal investigations during that time, the prosecutor said.
The trial had continued on Tuesday after a four-day hiatus since last Wednesday, while Stubbs was in hospital in Goulburn.
He faces 15 counts of dishonestly obtaining property by deception.
The case will return to court on Wednesday to hear Stubbs, who is representing himself, make closing submissions to the jury.