A mentally ill parking ranger who became convinced he was a lawyer after receiving a fake qualification has narrowly avoided jail despite scamming victims out of thousands of dollars.
He claimed to have had 50 clients in three states and dealt with about $1million in fees and money awarded to those clients.
Victims who paid for his fake services funded a lifestyle that Pinnock claims included flying around Australia three days a week, driving a BMW and staying in luxury hotels.
But Pinnock didn’t even do a law degree – he just paid for one from a dodgy American website that distributes qualifications based on ‘job and life experience’. No actual study is required.
For two years NSW man Alexander Pinnock (pictured), who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, lived a bizarre fantasy career as Alec Stuart – a fake criminal and civil lawyer based in South Australia
Pinnock didn’t even do a law degree – he just paid for one from a dodgy American website that distributes qualifications based on ‘job and life experience’
Pinnock claimed that as a lawyer he flew around Australia three days a week, drove a BMW and stayed in luxury hotels
The experience that Pinnock used to secure his fake degree was as a ranger with the City of Sydney, where his tasks included issuing penalty notices for illegal parking and breaches of council regulations.
Pinnock’s online qualification was so convincing that he believed he really was a hot-shot lawyer, A Current Affair reported.
‘No one believed this more than I did,’ said Pinnock, who was on Monday convicted of engaging in legal practice when he was not qualified.
‘I love the law to be honest.’
Downing Centre Local Court heard Pinnock’s psychiatrist confirmed he had been hospitalised for an ongoing schizophrenic disorder with ‘delusional ideations’.
He had also recently become homeless.
Despite his mental illness, the court heard from the Law Society of NSW’s barrister that Pinnock’s methods were ‘sophisticated’.
Pinnock claimed he used his online qualification – which he paid ‘Charleston Stuart University in South Carolina’ hundreds of dollars for – to gain accreditation to work as a lawyer in Victoria and SA.
But the Law Society of SA told the court that Pinnock actually sent an email to them claiming his ID card was stolen when his car was broken into.
Mentally ill parking ranger Alexander Pinnock became convinced he was a lawyer after receiving a fake qualification online – then went on to scam clients
While everything about Alec Stuart the lawyer was fake, his clients were not. Victorian woman Yvonne Borg was scammed out of $7,500 by him
Once Pinnock was satisfied with his ‘credentials’, he went about making a website, describing himself as a man ‘with a love of controversy’
He faked an Australian Practising Certificate which he provided to the Queensland Law Society and lied that he was admitted to practice in NSW in January 2020.
Once Pinnock was satisfied with his ‘credentials’, he went about making a website to spruik for clients, alecstuart.law.
On it Pinnock described himself as ‘not your typical solicitor’ but instead someone with ‘a love for controversy’ who was ‘destined to make a difference’.
He also wrote Facebook posts detailing his fake courtroom dealings and his lifestyle.
In one, he is pictured on a flight and writes ‘Heavenly Father’s blessings just don’t stop. Who gets to do this for their career?’ In another he writes that his BMW 5 Series is ‘the best looking sedan on the road’.
While everything about Alec Stuart the lawyer was fake, his clients were not.
Victorian woman Yvonne Borg paid him $7,500 to fight a case against her local council, which had fined her $49,000 over an illegal shed.
Downing Centre Local Court heard Pinnock’s psychiatrist confirmed he had been hospitalised for an ongoing schizophrenic disorder with ‘delusional ideations’. Pinnock avoided jail time but was fined $3,500
A tearful Ms Borg admitted the money she gave to Pinnock came from a loan from Centrelink and her sons.
South Australian man Steven Wiseman gave Pinnock $3,380 to represent him after finding out a piece of land he bought had been used as an illegal dumping ground.
To his credit, Pinnock admitted fault and described the damage he caused as ‘catastrophic’.
He pleaded guilty to all charges and copped a $3,500 fine and a community corrections order instead of a jail term.