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Dodgy lawyer used false letter to escape penalty - charged with perverting course of justice

Sydney lawyer James Cowled charged with perverting course of justice after he misled a judge to get off drug charges

A COCAINE-snorting young lawyer who allegedly lied to escape a career-killing drug conviction has been charged with perverting the course of justice.

Sydney judge’s associate James Cowled, 32, escaped drug charges in May with a letter allegedly procured under false pretences from his old boss, retired Federal Circuit Court Judge Michael Lloyd-Jones.

Cowled told the judge he was only facing a low-range drink-driving matter rather than a hard drugs charge in order to get the character reference.

But after The Daily Telegraph’s coverage of Cowled’s criminal proceedings, the judge turned on him, lodging a formal complaint to police.

Cowled, right, with his former judge who has now retired. He could now face 14 years behind bars. Picture: Instagram

And after a lengthy investigation, NSW Police yesterday charged Cowled in relation to the character reference. If convicted he faces the possibility of 14 years behind bars even though the original drug charges would likely have only resulted in a fine.

A NSW Police spokeswoman said Cowled was ­issued a future court attendance notice earlier this week. She said the charges related to “a tendered reference from his former employer and former member of the federal judiciary”.

Court documents show Cowled was caught snorting cocaine in the bathroom of a Double Bay cocktail bar last March as police carried out a routine check. Officers searched Cowled and found the drugs in his pocket.

The Daily Telegraph story that prompted the ­investigation detailed how Magistrate Lisa Stapelton dismissed his drug charges in Waverley Local Court after reading the character reference from Mr Lloyd-Jones.


The letter he used wasn't a forgery.  He'd lent on his old boss to write it, leaving out a few details about his offending.  That was enough to meet the points of proof for perverting the course of justice.

Cowled's alleged offending is at a very much lower end of the scale compared to the allegations against Gillard.  He's been brought to justice.  Justice demands that she's brought to account too.

Justice is on our side and we on its.

Whose side are you on?