A legal watchdog has urged High Court judges to strike off a leading solicitor who stabbed his wife in a murder-suicide bid while in the grip of work-related depression.
Former senior prosecutor Iain Farrimond attacked his wife Tina with a kitchen knife and a wooden ornament before stabbing himself on the eve of their wedding anniversary in May 2016.
The 55-year-old, from Worcester, was suffering from severe depression triggered by stress at work and believed his wife would not cope if he killed himself.
He admitted attempted murder and was jailed for six years at Nottingham Crown Court in September 2016.
A solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal found Farrimond had damaged the reputation of the legal profession, but said it had “considerable sympathy” for him.
The tribunal heard his wife, who recovered from her injuries, remained supportive of her husband.
It decided he should be suspended indefinitely, but not struck off, as there was a “realistic prospect” he may recover and be able to return to his work.
The Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) challenged the tribunal’s decision at London’s High Court on Tuesday, arguing the only possible sanction in Farrimond’s case was striking off.
Edward Levey, for the SRA, said: “It cannot be in the public interest or protect public confidence in the profession for an imprisoned criminal to remain on the Roll of Solicitors and thus also remain an officer of the court.”
He added: “We recognise the very sad circumstances of this case and accept there was substantial mitigation, nevertheless the crime was an extremely serious one.
“We say the tribunal gave too much weight to the sad aspect, but insufficient weight to the seriousness of it.”
Sir Brian Leveson, hearing the case with Mr Justice Garnham, told the court Farrimond found new methods of working within the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) “very stressful”.
The judge said Farrimond also disliked the “digitalisation of the justice system”, adding: “My concern is he could fall foul of ill health again while working as a solicitor.”
Representing himself over a video link from prison, Farrimond said he was not sure if he would ever want to work as a solicitor again.
He said: “I cannot answer that question for the long term without a crystal ball, I clearly cannot go back to my previous job with the CPS.”
However, he said he felt unable to concede the SRA’s appeal because the tribunal had made “kind and generous” comments about him.
He added: “This was a single, catastrophic action, occurring spontaneously – albeit there was a background of suicidal ideation arising from my mental health at the time.”
Sir Brian and Mr Justice Garnham reserved their ruling on the case.