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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Senior Crown Court litigator Lisa Sawyer recently worked with counsel Michael Levy from  2 Bedford Row  Chambers to successfully defend a client against an historic sex allegation.

Defending an historic sex allegation

historic sex allegation

The offence was said to have taken place 10 years ago.  The incident wasn’t reported to the police until 2015. Such delays make the preparation of such cases more difficult. Memories are likely to fade and helpful witnesses will be difficult to locate.

The client maintained that any sexual activity was consensual.  He had had recent contact with the complainant on social media which the prosecution claimed indicated that he accepted committing the offences.

Lisa’s client knew that he faced very serious offences.  He was aware that a conviction would not only have an effect on him, but also his family and friends.

The Preparation

historic sexual allegation criminal defenceAlthough the case was in Nottingham, our client lived in Glasgow and he wished representation from counsel based in London.  He also had some learning difficulties and was dyslexic.  The geographical and personal complications meant that Lisa had to spend the time necessary to ensure that the client was happy with his instructions including:

  • two lengthy meetings over several hours to take the client through the papers and seek instructions
  • preparing typed instructions and giving the client the time to consider and amend them
  • attend conference with counsel and client in London
  • spend additional time explaining the trial process
  • attending the trial throughout

Lisa’s command of the case and knowledge of the client meant that she was able to reassure the client as to the preparation being undertaken on his case and assist counsel with a steer towards the relevant aspects of the case.

The Verdict

The client gave evidence well before the jury, and after four days the jury returned a not guilty verdict, to the relief of the client.

Historic sex allegation solicitor
Nottingham Crown Court

The preparation and outcome of this case demonstrates that advice and preparation from an experienced litigator on combination with the right advocate can ensure the best outcome for clients.

Contact a Crown Court defence specialist
Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer

Some further information about how we will prepare to defend your case here.  Although our offices are based in the East Midlands we will prepare nationwide representation.  You can find your nearest office here.

If you face an historic sex allegation or any other matter to be dealt with before the Crown Court then please contact Lisa on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Monthly Archives: September 2016

Nick Walsh attended a meeting at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court on 19 September at the request of the Ministry of Justice.    GPS tagging in bail, sentencing and parole cases is to be piloted in Nottingham from the end of October 2016.

GPS tagging pilotA team from  the Ministry was to set out how it was proposed that the pilot would work.  Unfortunately the none of the MoJ team attended.   As a result, some information was forthcoming from HMCTS alone.

In appropriate cases a tag will be fitted to a defendant’s ankle and will track wherever that person goes.  The purpose will be to monitor compliance with, for example, exclusion requirements of court orders and bail conditions not to go to certain places or associate with certain people.

In potential remand cases the condition will only be available if otherwise the court would be choosing to remand the defendant into custody without the benefit of the tag.  It should not be used in conjunction with the electronic monitoring of curfew requirements.

GPS tagging pilotThe unit will need to be charged for one hour in every twenty-four, which means that for that hour the defendant will not be monitored.  As with all GPS systems, there may be a loss of signal.  This might occur, for example, in underground car parks.  Where this occurs the police will know where a person was when the signal was lost and where they were at the point the signal reconnected.

The GPS tagging equipment will be fitted and monitored by the police.  The numbers will be limited to 1200 across the whole country.  They will not be available to defendants who are homeless, have mental health difficulties or live in an area where the pilot is unavailable.

Nick and our other advocates will be able to put this condition forward as an alternative to custody soon.  If you wish any advice now, or in the future, please contact your nearest office or email us here.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins appeared before Chesterfield Magistrates and persuaded them to depart from sentencing guidelines.

The Allegations

His client faced allegations of two unprovoked assaults on elderly and vulnerable victims.  On two separate occasions she had been in Chesterfield Town centre and approached elderly individuals.

Chesterfield Magistrates Court Sentencing
Chesterfield Town Centre

On one occasion the victim was knocked to the floor.  The second time the victim was punched to the face.  The sentencing guidelines placed the assaults as unprovoked and sustained and involved vulnerable victims.

David’s  instructions were that his client had committed the offences.  At the time she was suffering from poor mental health.   On arrest the Defendant had been admitted to a Psychiatric Unit for 3 weeks.  This treatment allowed her release and interview by the police.

Bearing in mind the agreed mental health issues, it was disappointing that the case was charged.  An alternative disposal might have been appropriate.

Prior to attending Court the Defendant instructed David to represent her.  His experience with dealing with vulnerable defendants allowed her to  feel at ease throughout the Court process.

Chesterfield Crime Solicitor
Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

The Prosecution outlined the case.  Understandably the Magistrates indicated that they would need a Pre-Sentence report to assist with sentencing.  The potential for a custodial sentence was being considered.

Rather than agree to this course of action, David made representations.  He stressed the uniqueness of the case and suggested to the court that there were further options available.

Sentencing Guidelines

David argued that all parties accepted the Defendant was suffering from poor mental health at the time of the incident.  The health problems led his client to act as she had.  It would be unfair to punish the defendant as if she were fully culpable for her actions.

The court was addressed on the guidelines.  They are not inflexible and can be departed from.  As a result of all of David’s representations  the Court reflected upon its original indication.

The Chesterfield Magistrates chose to  impose a conditional discharge. This is an unusual disposal for what were serious assaults.  The character of the offender and the nature of the crime meant punishment would not be appropriate. No further action will be taken unless David’s client commits a further offence within the period of the discharge.

This case illustrates the value of instructing an experienced criminal practitioner to represent you if charged with a criminal offence, even if you are guilty. David’s experience meant that he has the confidence to make constructive suggestions to progress a case.  This can achieve what may seem to be, at first glance, surprising outcomes.


Our client had the benefit of legal aid.  This means that our advice and representation of her was free of charge to her.  We will always investigate the best way to fund your case.

Contact Us

If you have a case before Chesterfield Magistrates please contact  contact David at the Chesterfield office on 01246 283000 or by email here.  If you want to find a lawyer at your nearest office then please look here.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Nottingham crime solicitor Alex Chapman represented a client at trial this month before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.  Owing to the number of witnesses giving evidence the case took a whole day.

Nottingham crime solicitor trial
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Alex’s client was of good character and had never had to go to Court before this matter.  A first conviction could have a lasting effect on the defendant.

He was said to have assaulted his aunt. This was against the background of a family dispute. Alex’s client had gone to his aunt’s address to collect his brother.  A verbal argument started and his client was alleged to have physically assaulted his aunt.

The Court heard evidence from several witnesses about what took place.  Alex cross-examined the complainant and her partner and highlighted inconsistencies between their accounts, along with exaggerations that they had both made about her injuries.  Aside from putting his client’s case, Alex’s aim was to raise doubts as to whether the evidence could be relied upon.

Alex’s client chose to give evidence which can be a nerve-wracking experience.  Fortunately, Alex was able to assist through his questioning of his client.  These questions guided his client through his explanation to the court.  He maintained that he had done nothing wrong.  Instead, he had been forced to defend himself when his aunt began to attack him.

Nottingham crime solicitor
Inside Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Our client’s mother had also given a statement in support of her son.  She followed that up by giving evidence on his behalf before the Magistrates.

Evidence in support of our client’s good character was also put before the court.  This was important as it was evidence tending to suggest that he would be telling the truth about this incident and less likely that he would be an aggressor.

At the conclusion of the case Alex had the opportunity of addressing the Magistrates on his client’s behalf.  He was able to highlight those aspects of the evidence that might mean they could not be sure of his guilt.

After careful consideration the Magistrates found Alex’s client ‘not guilty’ of the charge. He kept his good character. He had the benefit of legal aid so our advice and representation was free of charge to him.

Contact a Nottingham crime solicitor

You can speak to a Nottingham crime solicitor by telephoning 0115 9599550.  You can find out whether another office would be more convenient here.

Alternatively, you can use the contact form below.


Monthly Archives: September 2016

Chesterfield Solicitor Kevin Tomlinson undertook the litigation in relation to two of six animal rights defendants who faced trial before Preston Crown Court.  The clients were represented by Andy Fitzpatrick and Matthew Stanbury of Garden Court North.

vhs fletchers animal rights trial
Preston Crown Court

All six were charged with Conspiracy to Cause Criminal Damage to animal traps and snares on a country estate in Lancashire.  The allegation was that the defendants agreed to cause damage to animal traps and snares.  These had been set by gamekeepers on the grouse and pheasant shooting estate.

Over time, the gamekeepers had found damaged traps and snares and reported the matter to Lancashire Wildlife police officers. Ultimately, the police enquiry was taken over by the Counter Terrorism Unit of Lancashire police.

The defendants all had an interest in animal rights and welfare.  The trapping and snaring of animals on the shooting estate was considered to be responsible for the decimation of the hen harrier population in the area, and the trapping and snaring of a wide range of animals, including badgers and, as it turned out, domestic animals.

These issues have recently been debated in parliament and is due to be debated again following a successful campaign by Chris Packham.

vhs fletchers animal rights
Chris Packham Campaign

Five of the defendants were detained by the police at the scene following their rescue of a cat from a trap.  It had been found hanging by a badly broken leg.   The police allowed them to take the cat to a vet for urgent treatment. Their details were taken and subsequently all five and one other were arrested.

The trial was listed in September before Preston Crown Court.  Three weeks of court time had been set aside.  In the event, two of the other defendants pleaded guilty to criminal damage to traps and snares.  This was to a value of £312.  As a result, both of these defendants received community orders for offences that could and should have remained in the Magistrates’ Court.  This would have represented a substantial saving to the tax payer.

Kevin’s two clients and the remaining to defendants were found ‘not guilty’ when the prosecution offered no evidence on the same day.  Kevin’s clients were placed in a strong position by the work that he had undertaken on their behalf.  Any argument at trial would have been two-fold:

  • there was no agreement to cause damage
  • in any event, the traps and snares had been set illegally by the gamekeepers

The second part of the defence was based on expert evidence from the country’s leading expert in animal trapping, Professor Stephen Harris.  He examined the evidence of the gamekeepers and would have told the jury of the illegal use of traps and snares on the estate by the employed gamekeepers.

Had the case gone to trial it may well have exposed an arguably  ‘cosy’ relationship between the gamekeepers and the Wildlife crime officers of Lancashire police.

If you have a similar case involving your protection of animal rights that you wish to discuss then please contact Kevin Tomlinson on 01246 283000 or by email here.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins travelled to Rotherham Magistrates’ Court to represent a local client facing an allegation of using their mobile phone whilst driving.

This offence has recently been in the media as the proposal is the raise the number of penalty points on conviction to six.  Such a conviction would particularly effect new drivers, who would face revocation of their licence upon conviction.

The Allegation
mobile phone offence Rotherham Magistrates
Rotherham Magistrates’ Court

The allegation in this case was that David’s client had been seen by a police officer driving a work van whilst using his mobile phone.  Specifically he was seen holding it to his ear. Our client was stopped at the roadside and denied the offence.  He offered his phone to the Police to check.  They refused to do so.

The driver received a summons. This ordered him to appear before Rotherham Magistrates Court.

David’s client represented himself to start with.  He pleaded ‘not guilty’.  He told the court that he had not been using his phone. The court advised him to get evidence of this.

Anyone who has tried to obtain all outgoing and incoming call records will know that most major network providers will refuse to release them without a witness summons.   This is issued by the court.  Our client was unaware of this and when facing difficulties securing the necessary evidence he contacted David.

mobile phone offence

David immediately contacted the phone provider and obtained the relevant information for all outgoing calls.  For incoming calls and all data usage, David successfully made an application to the Court for a Witness Summons.   This secured the release of the information.

The Evidence

David then served this evidence on the Prosecution.  It supported what his client had said.  The phone was not in use at the time.  He asked that the prosecution review the case.

Unfortunately for the client and the court, the prosecution maintained it did not have time to properly review the case before trial.  Instead,  it suggested the case be adjourned. The case had been before the court for some months.  David’s client was understandably anxious.  David objected to the prosecution application.

As a result all parties attended Court.  David repeated his representations to the prosecution.  After a short wait, and no doubt interesting conversations between the CPS lawyer and police witness, the prosecution offered no evidence.  The client had the benefit of a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

This case shows the benefits of instructing an experienced Solicitor.  David was able to make an early decision about what to do to obtain the mobile phone records.  All preparation was directed to show that his client was not guilty of the offence.

Although common sense would say that some things, like your own mobile phone records, should be simple to obtain, this often is not the case.  Unfortunately, court procedure may mean that you  seem require the need of expert legal knowledge.


Legal aid is often not available in such cases.  Here, David was instructed privately.  An affordable fixed fee was agreed to conduct the trial.  Information about funding can be found here.

As our client won his case, David was able to apply for costs from central funds which will mean that the client will have his costs refunded.

Contact Us

Should you wish to contact Chesterfield crime solicitor David Gittins to discuss an offence involving a mobile phone, please telephone him at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000 or email him here.

If you wish to speak to one of our other lawyers at your local office then please contact us or email us here.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Despite a late instruction for representation in a road traffic case, Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman mitigated to avoid a disqualification on behalf of her client.

Mel’s client had dealt with the early stages of the case himself, pleading guilt to an allegation of careless driving by post.  He had admitted driving through a red light which resulted in a collision with a bus.  A number of passengers were taken to hospital having sustained injuries.

mansfield crime solicitor road traffic

The client’s case was aggravated by the fact that he already had 3 penalty points on his licence.

Following receipt of his guilty plea by post, the Magistrates had adjourned his case for him to attend.  There would then be consideration given to whether he ought to be disqualified.  It was after receiving the adjournment notice that Mel was instructed to represent him.

The client had mitigation relevant to the issue of disqualification:

  • his partner lived some distance away
  • he and a colleague were dependent upon his licence to get to work
  • he provided care for his elderly grandmother and needed his vehicle for this
  • alternative means of transport to allow him to undertake his responsibilities would have been too expensive for his wages

Every sentencing hearing involves balancing the seriousness of the offence against any personal circumstances that can properly be put forward on a client’s behalf.  In this case, Mel was able to persuade the Magistrates that it was not necessary to impose points that would have led to a totting disqualification, nor to impose a discretionary ban.

Instead, the Mansfield Magistrates imposed 7 penalty points along with the financial penalty.  Mel’s  client was able to continue to drive, work and undertake family responsibilities.

Road Traffic Offence Mansfield Crime Solicitor
Maqnsfield Magistrates’ Court

Although it is not impossible to obtain legal aid for such offences, it i more difficult.  If legal aid is not available we are able to represent you for an affordable fixed fee.

If you wish to discuss a road traffic case with Mel then please contact her at our Mansfield office 01623 675816 or email her here.  Otherwise contact a lawyer at your nearest office.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman travelled to Chesterfield Magistrates to represent a local client facing allegations of common assault.

Mansfield crime Solicitor at Chesterfield Magsitrates
Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court

The allegation was serious, said to involve punches and kicks to a female complainant while she was on the ground.  Further, the evidence appeared extremely strong – aside from the complainant there were four other prosecution witnesses who claimed that the assault had taken place.

Owing to the number of prosecution witnesses this was a complex and difficult case to prepare.  Mel had to decide what the relevant issues were and tailor her preparation and questioning to that end.

Each witness gave a different version of events, and the questioning of these witness had to bring these inconsistencies to the fore.  The purpose of this cross-examination was to show that even though there was agreement between witnesses as to an assault taking place, their evidence as a whole could not be relied upon to make the Magistrates sure of her client’s guilt.

After hearing all of the evidence in the case the Magistrates came to the conclusion that the  inconsistencies between witnesses as to how the incident occurred and who was even there meant they could not be sure that an offence had even been committed.

As a result, Mel’s relieved client was found not guilty of the charge.  Additionally, he was legally aided which means that her representation was free of charge to him.

This case shows the benefits of instructing an experienced trial advocate such as Mel, who is able to make an early decision about how best to approach the case and direct all preparation to that end.

Should you wish to contact Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman, please telephone her at our Mansfield office 01623 675816 or email her here.  If you wish to speak to one of our lawyers at your local office then please contact us.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Recently, Nottingham crime solicitor and partner Martin Hadley proved the truth of the maxim ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’ when he represented a client charged with cannabis production before Nottingham Magistrates’ Court.

VHS Fletchers Nottingham Crime Solicitors
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

The client had been arrested at his home address after the police had been called to an alleged incident of domestic violence.  Although that was not pursued, the police who attended discovered the client and 20 cannabis plants.

These were being grown in circumstances which could only be described as professional and commercial including an irrigation system, additional Carbon Dioxide and extraction fans.

The evidence suggesting that Martin’s client was involved in the commercial production of cannabis was apparently strong.  The matter may well have been sent to the Crown Court to be dealt with, and a court would be thinking of a sentence, after unsuccessful trial, of 12 months imprisonment.  The client would also be at risk of confiscation proceedings.

The client’s instructions were that he had not been staying at his home address, but had instead been at his partner’s house.  He had only become aware of the cannabis plants on the day the police were called.  He accepted that he had spoken to the person growing the plants and watched him water them, and had not asked him to move them or contacted the police.

VHS Fletchers Cannabis Production

The prosecution was persuaded to substitute an allegation of permitting premises to be used for the growing of cannabis.  Martin’s client pleaded guilty.  He was then sentenced on the basis that he had only been involved in the offence for a matter of hours.

The Magistrates chose to impose a conditional discharge.  This is an unusual disposal for what was apparently a serious allegation.  The court decided that given the character of the offender and the nature of the crime, punishment would not be appropriate.

Martin’s client was released and the offence registered on their criminal record. No further action will be taken unless they commit a further offence within the period of the discharge.

This case illustrates the value of instructing an experienced criminal practitioner to represent you if charged with a criminal offence.  Martin’s years of experience mean that he has the confidence of both the prosecutor and the court, so when he makes a constructive suggestion to progress a case people are likely to listen.

If you are charged with cannabis production or other matters you can contact Martin at the Nottingham office on 0115 9599550 or by email here.

Monthly Archives: September 2016

Mansfield crime solicitor Tim Haines represented a client for an allegation of production of cannabis recently.  Although there were only 8 plants discovered, they were found in situ with a sophisticated hydroponic system, cash, mobile phones, scales and what the police alleged were dealer lists.

As is common, the police had sought a statement from a police expert who maintained that all of these items of evidence were important, and in combination he was sure that the client was involved in the commercial supply of cannabis.

VHS Fletchers Cannabis

If that was the case, the sentencing guidelines for production of cannabis would place the client as having a significant role in a category 3 offence.  This would mean that the starting point on sentence would be 12 months custody, within a range of 6 months to 3 years.

Tim took full instructions from his client.  These were that the client was a cannabis user himself, and although he accepted supply to others, this was only to a limited number of people who were his friends and also cannabis users.

These instructions were at odds with the Crown expert.  As a result, there was a risk that the client, even on entering a guilty plea, would end up before the Crown Court for a hearing to decide the basis on which he would be sentenced, and for eventual sentence.  This would add to the client’s understandable anxiety as the proceedings became protracted.

Tim’s experience and familiarity with such cases meant that he was able to engage in credible negotiations with the prosecutor.  He was able to persuade the prosecution to disregard the conclusion of its own expert, and instead to proceed to sentence on the basis of his client’s account.

Carefully prepared mitigation built on the concession by the Crown and Tim was able to persuade the Magistrates that the case could be kept in their court.  Instead of a custodial sentence, a community order with unpaid work was imposed.  Confiscation proceedings were not pursued.

Cannabis Production Mansfield Solicitor
Mansfield Magistrates Court

Tim was able to represent the client under the government funded legal aid scheme which means that his representation was free of charge to his client.

If you are to be interviewed by the police or face charges for drug related offences please contact your nearest office.  Alternatively you can email us here.  If you wish to speak to Tim directly then telephone 01623 675816 or email him here.

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