Defence lawyer fined over rape survivor questioning

Ellie Wilson
Ellie Wilson made a range of complaints about defence solicitor Lorenzo Alonzi

A defence solicitor who “repeatedly crossed the line” while questioning a woman during a rape trial has been fined and ordered to pay her compensation.

A Faculty of Advocates committee found Lorenzo Alonzi’s behaviour amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct in six of 11 complaints made by rape survivor Ellie Wilson.

The committee said Mr Alonzi did not appear to clearly and unequivocally accept any wrongdoing or offer an unreserved apology.

Ms Wilson said he seemed more concerned with “the damage to his reputation than the harm he’s caused”.

Lorenzo Alonzi

The committee found Lorenzo Alonzi did not appear to clearly accept any wrongdoing or offer an unreserved apology (Image: Faculty of Advocates)

 

The complaints related to a rape trial at the High Court in Glasgow in 2022 at which Mr Alonzi was acting on behalf of Daniel McFarlane.

The former University of Glasgow medical student was convicted of raping Ms Wilson and sentenced to five years in prison.

After the trial, Ms Wilson complained about the way Mr Alonzi had spoken to her during cross-examination as well as his language during closing speeches and sentencing.

At one point Mr Alonzi “abused the privileged position” he held by asking Ms Wilson if she had narcissistic personality disorder despite there being no report or diagnosis of the condition. Ms Wilson replied that she did not.

After McFarlane had been found guilty of rape, Mr Alonzi told the court his client “fell in love with the wrong person”, that he didn’t belong in court and that it was “difficult not to imagine some sense of injustice in it all”.

In response to Ms Wilson’s complaints, the committee found that Mr Alonzi had engaged in unsatisfactory conduct during questioning, closing speeches and sentencing.

Issuing its penalty, it said it was regrettable that Mr Alonzi “does not appear to clearly and unequivocally accept any wrongdoing on his part or offer an unreserved apology” to Ms Wilson.

It did note that he was said to “regret any upset caused to the complainer as well as any perception of discourtesy to the court”.

The committee found that submissions made on behalf of Mr Alonzi focused on the fact he had been the subject of a significant amount of negative publicity.

It found Mr Alonzi should be fined £2,000 and issued with a severe written censure.

The committee said Ms Wilson had been caused considerable upset and distress and recognised the time and dedication she had spent in presenting the complaint. It awarded £1,000 in compensation.

Ms Wilson told BBC News she was glad Mr Alonzi would have to suffer material consequences for his actions but that a harsher penalty would have been in order.

She said: “Mr Alonzi has expressed no remorse for his actions and seems more concerned with the damage to his reputation rather than the harm he’s caused.

“It’s difficult for me to feel a sense of closure when there’s no apology.”

Ms Wilson said the actions of defence advocates like Mr Alonzi could discourage other people from coming forward but she thought his punishment would send a strong message to other defence advocates who seek to break the rules.

A Faculty of Advocates spokesperson said: “The process remains ongoing, therefore it would not be appropriate for the Faculty of Advocates to comment on this matter, beyond confirming that a right of appeal exists for both parties.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

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