Cecil Decker, a Sierra Leonean has been given a suspended sentence for falsely presenting himself as a barrister in London. 

Cecil impersonated himself as a real lawyer named Andrew Otchie at an immigration tribunal, was “sworn in” and signed documents under Otchie’s name.

The prosecution in Decker’s subsequent trial noted that one major giveaway that Decker was not Otchie was the difference in their ethnicities; Otchie being white and Decker not.

After admitting to impersonating a barrister, Westminster Magistrates’ Court gave the fake lawyer a suspended 26-week prison sentence.

Prosecution barrister Rachel Darlington suggested that this might not have been an isolated incident, noting that the real Otchie had received calls regarding representations for clients he had no knowledge of, indicating that it “had been ongoing for some time”.

Decker, 39, is originally from Sierra Leone, where his father was a lawyer, and would often take him along to court sessions.

In mitigation, it was argued by defence lawyer David Freedman that Decker received “no material financial benefit” from his actions, which were “a stupid, misguided attempt to assist somebody”.

Sentencing Decker, Judge Anthony Woodcock said: “I accept that you made no financial gain, there may have been a degree of altruism behind your behaviour but it does not alter the fact that the offence is aggravated by a number of features: one, the extent to which you took the matter forward. This wasn’t simply an oral representation out of court, what happened in the face of the court or in the court precincts, the court was deceived, court staff were deceived.”

“The client, I dare say, had an important immigration matter to be dealt with, could have been disadvantaged,” Judge Woodcock continued. “It was a nuisance, to say the very least, to the barrister who you impersonated.”