AS A Marks and Spencer trolley hurtled down New Row with a 53-year-old man on board, before overturning and depositing him into the gutter, a stellar legal career was coming to a crashing end.

Jonathan Matheson-Dear's unorthodox mode of transport, on the occasion of his retiral celebration in June 2019, is one of many tales recounted in the Dunfermline court solicitor's 30-year journey through law and disorder, 'Mushroom Soup in Court'.

From defending hedgehog killers and why paedophiles deserve jail, to dealing with terrible parents, dishonest police officers and coping with 11 years of Chinese water torture in his "dilapidated" Chalmers Street office and dads in strip clubs, the book is an entertaining read.

There are triumphs, his "greatest success" was winning substantial compensation for the Royal Navy man whose Inverkeithing home was demolished without his knowledge while he was at sea, a story the Press covered at the time.

And crushing lows, a bullying sheriff with a fondness for drink and a towering temper reduced him to tears and on the brink of giving up his career after a "verbal onslaught" lasting five hours.

There were missed opportunities, with his excitement rising after hearing his receptionist utter the immortal Taggart line: 'There's been a murder' – only for his client to "spoil it all" by pleading guilty and "depriving" him of the opportunity to prepare a stirring defence.

He's also locked himself in a vault, seen justice done under a disco glitter ball, sat through a car wash with the window open and been admonished by police after a boozy office party – at least he admitted it, Boris.

Now 55, he told the Press about his book: "With doing court work, you have so many stories and anecdotes that I had an idea about an autobiography or something like that.

"I didn't really take notes, it was all done from memory but it's all true and etched in my mind!

"It's a short book and only took me a couple of months. You remember the funny cases the most, although there were lots of downs too and some very difficult cases."

The title is a nod to his mushroom soup, and its "pungent aroma" that used to permeate the courthouse, that he preferred to the tea and coffee his colleagues had as they waited for cases to call.

He added: "I printed 100 books. I'm not seeking to make any money out of it, it was more for my pleasure and writing it was an enjoyable experience.

"I'm now doing part-time lecturing and tutoring at Dundee University so it's a nice way of telling students about what it's really like to be a solicitor working at the coal face."

There's plenty to choose from, such as the "open and shut" claim for compensation when a young joiner's leg was amputated after an industrial accident, which Jonathan lost after a trio of experienced barristers "ambushed" him – it was overturned on appeal thankfully.

In an employment tribunal he needled a director with a "meteoric temper" to the point where "he rose from his chair and threatened me with violence in front of the entire tribunal", adding: "I knew at that moment that I would win the case."

Some of the odd cases that, unsurprisingly, didn't reach court included one client who "seriously wished me on legal aid to try to obtain tickets for a Glasgow Rangers home match".

He said another "clown" wanted him to pursue the local health authority for damages "because a nurse who examined him in hospital had offended him by expressing shock that he had turned up for an appointment with no underwear on".

The "Holy Grail" for court solicitors is the jury trial and, ahead of his first major one, he was "as excited as a six-year-old boy on Christmas morning only to discover that my client had disappeared overnight and fled to Holland from where he never returned".

But the bread and butter is family law, including divorces, child care disputes and children's panel hearings.

Jonathan said: "Some of the reasons suggested to me by clients for refusing contact with the other parent were so absurd as to be pathetic.

"One mother wished to refuse contact to her little girl's father because he had allowed her to touch the coat of a homeless person in Edinburgh (pre-COVID)."

He said another played a game with her children called "Pretend to throw daddy out with the rubbish" while some fathers were just as bad.

He said one hypocrite said he should be awarded custody of his six-year-old son as the mother was a bad example to their child, a "slut and a tart" who performed naked lap dances for money.

Asked where he had met the child's mother he responded: "In a strip club ..."

Jonathan was drawn to become a court solicitor as he was a "natural show-off" who enjoyed watching the lunchtime courtroom drama, Crown Court, on ITV.

His first job in July 1990 was for a Dundee firm but as he wasn't authorised to appear in court, his early 'highlights' included changing lightbulbs and cleaning up vomit that one of the firm's clients had deposited on the stairs.

He was also asked to go to the home of a dead client of the firm and see if he could find his unlicensed shotgun.

"I had no idea if the weapon was loaded, and if it was perhaps it is better that I did not know!"

From there it was on to Leven, working for an "unpleasant bully" of a senior partner and in a depressed town where locals would stare at him for wearing a suit.

He added: "This is hardly surprising since half the population would be clad in shell suits in execrable neon colours and the other 50 per cent would be attired in Rangers tops."

From a Glenrothes firm, it was then his "halcyon days" at W & AS Bruce in Dunfermline before an enjoyable spell at Ross and Connel.

Remembering W & AS Bruce's office, he added: "There was a foul smell emanating from the kitchen close to my room and I had to endure the Chinese water torture of the sound of a dripping tap which lasted for the entire 11 years I was there."

For all those he defended, there is always one accusation thrown at court solicitors: "How can you represent people you know or think are guilty?"

"It frustrates me as it implies it should be on my conscience that I looked after the legal interests of such clients!" he said.

"My standard reply was to say, 'Why do you not ask the procurator fiscal how they can prosecute people they think may be innocent?'"

Jonathan said he was horrified to find that, "although the vast majority of police officers act with honesty and integrity, there are some who are corrupt or who lie or fabricate evidence to secure a conviction".

He recalled an example where his client, a teenager with learning difficulties and a mental disorder, was "bullied and hectored" by police into making a confession.

He added that the conviction was overturned on appeal.

Jonathan believes his 30 years as a court solicitor made him much less judgemental of those who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

He said: "I sincerely do not believe that most of these individuals deliberately choose petty crime as a way of life but many of them are themselves victims of their truly wretched circumstances.

"Provided they show genuine willingness to reform, society owes it to them to nurture and support them, diverting them to properly-funded agencies to assist them in tackling their social problems."

However, when it comes to paedophiles, he has a different take as they "would often be psychopaths as well as sex offenders", devious and manipulative people who had no empathy for their victims or the "horrendous lifelong effects of their crimes".

He added: "It is, sadly, statistically extremely rare for paedophiles to reform or to respond meaningfully to any therapy or treatment of their predilection for this kind of crime, which means that the best place for them has to be prison to protect the public from their deviant behaviour.

"Fortunately, I was consulted relatively infrequently by such clients."

To get a copy of the book, email