Lawyer doesn’t remember stealing paintings Thu Aug 16, 2012
Michael Gerard Sullivan, 54, has pleaded guilty to stealing two paintings from the Katoomba Fine Art Gallery in December 2008….CCTV vision clearly shows Mr Sullivan stealing two James Willebrant paintings between courses.
During his court case Mr Sullivan’s lawyers tendered two psychiatric reports which concluded he had dissociative amnesia and his actions were totally out of character.
The court heard the disorder caused him to take on the identity of an art thief and not remember his actions
Judge Jennifer English accepted the diagnosis, saying Mr Sullivan had previously lived an exemplary life.
She did not record a conviction.
The Lawyer Who Forgot He Was a Thief
August 16, 2012 By Joe Palazzolo
Michael Gerard Sullivan, a lawyer in Sydney, Australia, was dining one night in 2008 at an art gallery restaurant when, according to the security cameras that recorded him, he excused himself between courses and stole two paintings worth $14,500.
Mr. Sullivan, who previously worked at some of the country’s top firms – including Freehills, Gadens and Mallesons (now King & Wood Mallesons after a big merger earlier this year) – pleaded guilty, with one caveat: He said he didn’t remember committing the crime….
The psychiatrists said Mr. Sullivan, who faced up to seven years in jail, was playing the character of an art thief. Australia’s ABC News reported Thursday that Judge English accepted Mr. Sullivan’s defense.
Judge English dismissed the charges but placed Mr. Sullivan on a two-year good behavior bond, saying he had lived an otherwise exemplary life, according to the ABC report.
The Cleveland Clinic, by the way, describes dissociative amnesia thus:
Dissociative amnesia occurs when a person blocks out certain information, usually associated with a stressful or traumatic event, leaving him or her unable to remember important personal information. With this disorder, the degree of memory loss goes beyond normal forgetfulness and includes gaps in memory for long periods of time or of memories involving the traumatic event.