A BOXER from Grays has become one of the youngest people in the country to qualify as a barrister – after a spell of work experience scared him straight.

Franky Payne, of Cresthill Avenue, has passed his Bar Professional Training Course (BPTC) at the tender age of 22 – despite the average age for starting the year-long course being 27.

The amateur boxer, who dropped the sport to focus on his law degree at the University of Portsmouth, is the first in his family to join the bench – his parents moved from council estates in the East End and his elder brothers work in bricklaying and carpentry.

Mum Tracey, 49, said after receiving his results on Friday she and the family were incredibly proud – but also mindful of how easily Franky’s talents could have been wasted.

She said: “He was quite naughty at school and, when he was 15, it came to their two weeks of work experience and he got a placement at Grayswood wood yard.

“He only had to do four days because he was boxing in Portugal but, on the first day, he phoned me up to say he hated it there because he was so bored so I just told him to get used to it because of how much he was mucking about at school.

“From that day on he put his head down, decided what he wanted to do, and got on with it.”

Franky, who has changed his name to Francis for work purposes, will soon be called to the Bar - after which he will start a years’ pupillage under an experienced barrister before practising on his own and starting on his next goal of becoming one of the country’s youngest Queen’s Counsels (QCs).

The youngest person to pass their BPTC in the United Kingdom was American student Gabrielle Turnquest, who passed last summer, aged 18.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, of Two Fat Ladies fame, became the youngest to do in 1968 when she passed aged 21.