Knows the law from all angles: Charles Richardson, seen here leaving court on Monday. Photo by Nigel Regan
Knows the law from all angles: Charles Richardson, seen here leaving court on Monday. Photo by Nigel Regan
Of all the lawyers involved the Cooper twins murder trial, only Charles Richardson knows what it’s like to sit in the prisoner’s dock, flanked by prison guards, listening as the evidence against him unfolds.

He has made no secret of his criminal past. But in triumphing over that past, he has become a Bermudian success story.

In 1993, Mr. Richardson, now 34, went to jail after he was convicted of a shooting incident at Spinning Wheel nightclub. His prison experience helped ignite his passion for law.

Bored while awaiting trial, he asked his lawyer Mark Pettingill for a book he could read to help him understand legal issues related to his case. Mr. Pettingill handed him the only thing he had, Archbold, a weighty legal tome. Once he opened it, he couldn’t put it down.

That was the beginning of his long journey back to being a law-abiding citizen. He began his legal studies by taking a correspondence course through the University of London and received his degree in 2001. Armed with his newly-acquired legal knowledge, and a degree that represented evidence of an intention to change his life, he successfully petitioned the Governor for early release seven and a half years into a 15-year-sentence.

He continued his studies in the U.K. after he was able to convince an Inns of Court panel of lawyers considering whether to admit him to a vocational course that he was a changed man.

Mr. Richardson was in London from September 2003 to May 2004 and did a stint in the law firm of QC John Perry, who defended him at his appeal a decade ago. Now they are on the same legal team.

Mr. Richardson works for the same firm where he did his pupillage in Bermuda — Juris Law Chambers, whose principal is Victoria Pearman. Mr. Richardson was a member of the defence team representing former MP Julian Hall, who was acquitted of stealing money from a mentally ill client. He was called to the Bermuda bar in June 2005.

Mr. Richardson is married with three children and is a footballer. He has said his past life of crime will serve him well as a defence lawyer.

He also sees himself as a mentor and a beacon of hope to black Bermudian men who are on the margins of society as he once was.

He told the Bermuda Sun in an interview nearly two years ago: “I have discharged my legal debt, but I still have a moral debt to discharge. I have begun to discharge that by encouraging others not to give up.”