Disgraced barrister who bought drugs from clients loses appeal bid

Barrister Henry Hendron (Met Police/PA)
Barrister Henry Hendron (Met Police/PA)

A barrister who was jailed for asking clients to sell him drugs has failed in a bid to overturn his 14-month prison sentence.

Henry Hendron, 42, sent messages asking for help with drugs supply, after meeting the men through his work as a criminal lawyer.

Messages on Hendron’s mobile phone revealed he had asked to buy Class A methamphetamine and then-Class C GBL from Arno Smit and Ezra Benson, who were both at HMP Belmarsh at the time of his arrest.

Hendron brought an appeal against his 14-month prison sentence, but the challenge was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

Delivering the ruling, Recorder of Sheffield Judge Jeremy Richardson, sitting with Lord Justice William Davis and Mr Justice Calver, said Hendron’s case is “unique” and added: “It is to be hoped that remains the case.”

Hendron was convicted over WhatsApp messages he sent to Smit, who he had represented as a lawyer repeatedly at Charing Cross police station.

He appeared for Smit at Woolwich crown court on March 29, 2022, and was on his way into maximum security Belmarsh Prison, where Smit was being held on drugs charges, for a meeting with his client when he was arrested.

Messages revealed Smit had told Hendron in September 2021 “please transfer me £100 for the night”, and the barrister replied: "You gave me 2 grams of T and 30ml G".

Hendron then told him: "Your name is coming up 'John Smith' BTW. Every criminal calls themselves 'John Smith'.

“I have a Romanian gangster built like a street fighter and indeed is a cage fighting national champ but was a genuine gangster into serious organised crimes across various jurisdictions. Anyway, he changed his name by deed poll to 'John Smith'. It's what they do, they think they obtain some sort of anonymity by safety in numbers name?"

Smit then told the lawyer: "£60 for T and £15 for water” in popular references to illegal party drugs, and Hendron replied to say: "Just transferred to you £100 sorry for the delay, which was initially caused by your delay. Just made transfer, yours HH."

Two days later, at 2.50am, Hendron messaged Smit to ask: "Are you up? Can I swing around in 20 minutes to buy one T and some G?"

Hendron also messaged Benson about drug supply, writing in August 2020: "Oi oi, can I get a gram off you today please? I just sent you 50".

The court heard Benson had also been represented by Hendron at a police station, after a June 2020 arrest for possession of crack cocaine and crystal meth.

Police recovered a message from Hendron to Benson celebrating that he had “got you off with a caution”.

Hendron, who qualified as a barrister in 2006, complained that his jail sentence was excessive.

The Court of Appeal read a pre-sentence report, which had described him as a “chaotic, excitable, and agitated man”, adding that he can come across as a “high-spirited, volatile individual, who can present as manic and uncontrolled.

“Anti-social conduct and an avoidance of warmth was apparent, although I wondered whether an underlying fear of independence and reliance on others the source of this was. Hostility, self-absorption, grandiosity and a lack of social conscience were also present. His profile indicated that he sought attention at a rather extreme level, most likely in an attempt to secure approval from others, and could be perceived as intrusive and impetuous by those around him."

Dismissing the appeal, the judges concluded: “The sentence here is not excessive, still less manifestly excessive in all the circumstances.”

Hendron had built up a profile as a barrister to the stars, with prominent clients including the Earl of Cardigan and Tory MP Nadine Dorries.

But Hendron’s career floundered after his 18-year-old boyfriend Miguel Jimenez was found dead at the flat the couple shared in Pump Court, Temple, in the City of London, after taking a lethal cocktail of so-called chemsex party drugs.

He admitted buying £1,000 worth of M-cat or Meow Meow and GBL from award-winning former BBC producer Alex Parkin and was handed a community order with 140 hours of unpaid work at the Old Bailey in 2016.

The Court of Appeal noted that Hendron had not been disbarred after that conviction, noting “unusual and very serious” feature of his case.

He was suspended by the Bar Standards Board for three years following his 2016 convictions.

He was reprimanded and prohibited from undertaking public access work for two years following a disciplinary hearing in 2021 after holding himself out as a barrister on websites while suspended.