In the Media

Disabled prisoner allowed to return home

PUBLISHED February 15, 2013

Monday 18 February 2013 by Jonathan Rayner

Who? Andrew Sperling, 44, consultant solicitor-advocate at virtual law firm Scomo.

Why is he in the news? He secured the release from custody of a severely disabled man who needed the kind of 24-hour medical care a prison cannot provide.

A criminal gang persuaded Daniel Roque Hall to smuggle cocaine from South America into the UK. He was caught by customs and, in July 2012, sentenced to three years in prison, although his health was such that he was almost immediately transferred to hospital. His lawyers obtained an injunction preventing him from being moved back to prison from hospital.

Last week the Court of Appeal ruled he could serve the remainder of his sentence on licence being cared for at home by family and others. Roque Hall suffers from Friedrich's ataxia, a progressive condition that causes constant pain, breathing difficulties and premature death.

Thoughts on the case: 'This was one of the most demanding cases that I have worked on. I needed to get up-to-date very quickly because my client's life would have been imperilled if he had been returned to prison. The Court of Appeal made a compassionate and just decision to allow him to go home, where he will receive the care he needs.'

Why become a lawyer? 'I have a fundamental belief in fairness and the need to protect the rights of vulnerable people. Practising the law is the best way to do it.'

Career high: 'This case and successfully pursuing my first judicial review as a solicitor-advocate in the High Court, Manchester.'

Career low: 'Living through the gradual erosion of legal aid. It is depressing that there are whole swathes of people with no access to legal advice.'