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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham solicitor advocate Phil Plant recently dealt with a serious case involving sexual activity with a child that required a sensitive presentation of mitigation to secure a just sentence for his client.  The preparation undertaken by senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier, including the request for a psychologist report, assisted greatly.

Sexual Activity with a Child

Phil’s female client had pleaded guilty to four offences of sexual activity with a child.  She had had a relationship with a teenage boy involving sexual contact.

sexual activity with a child
Nottingham Crown Court

The relationship had come to the attention of the boy’s mother.  She had contacted Phil’s client and told her of her son’s age.  She was instructed to end the relationship.  This advice was ignored and the relationship continued and moved to a sexual phase.

The boy had provided the police with a detailed victim impact statement describing how he felt that he had been made to grow up too fast.

Our Client was Vulnerable

In turn, Phil’s client presented as very vulnerable.  She suffered from learning impairment and a lack of social awareness.  She had suffered bullying at school and that had led to difficulties for her in forming peer to peer relationships.

In the view of her parents, and confirmed by a psychologist, she was less emotionally mature than her 15 year old sister.  In addition she had been diagnosed with epilepsy that on occasions left her with slurred speech.

Suspended Sentence Imposed

Phil had to approach the case with sensitivity.  The judge accepted that the offending fell within a sentencing bracket that had a starting point of 12 months for at least two of the offences.  The judge as persuaded, however, that taking into account all the personal mitigation a 16 month prison sentence could properly be suspended for 24 months.

Contact Us

If you face a serious case such as sexual activity with a child then you will need your case preparing and presenting by experienced lawyers with a view to securing the best outcome for you.  If you wish to contact Phil or Sarah then please telephone them on 0115 9599550 or email them here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham criminal solicitor and Higher Courts Advocate Phil Plant recently persuaded a Nottingham Crown Court judge to suspend sentence in a case of distraction burglary prepared by Crown Court litigator Siobhan McGuinness.

Our client faced a serious allegation of burglary.  Although she had pleaded guilty

distraction burglary sentence
Nottingham Crown Court

to the offence at the first Crown Court hearing, there had been some delay.  She had been part of a group of people travelling in a car.  Upon coming to a remote farmhouse the car appeared to break down.

Distraction Burglary

The elderly occupier of the address came out and offered assistance.  She allowed the male driver into her house.  Our client then arrived at the door.  She was pregnant at the time, and asked for a glass of water.  She then complained about the water and asked for a second glass.  This distraction allowed the male complainant to remove a laptop from the address.

Phil’s client was linked to the address by a fingerprint recovered from the glass she had used.

Distraction burglaries of this type are likely to be treated very seriously by the courts.  There is an inevitable betrayal of trust, the victim if often vulnerable and there is always a meeting between burglar and victim.

Two Year Sentence Suspended

Phil properly recognised these aggravating features in his address to the judge.  He also properly set out what mitigation was available to her.  The most significant of this was that between the arrest and her charge his client had given birth to her child, and this fact had made her re-evaluate her priorities.

distraction burglary sentence
HHJ Sampson

His Honour Judge Sampson was persuaded to impose a suspended sentence for this distraction burglary.  Having taken the view that the offence was worth 3 years after a trial  the Learned Judge was prepared to suspend a 2 year prison sentence for 24 months.

Contact Us

It is important that you instruct an advocate who is able to judge the likely effect of plea and mitigation on your eventual sentence.  If you wish to speak to Phil about a case then please telephone him on 0115 9599550 or Siobhan on 01332 546818. Alternatively you can email them here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant recently travelled to Northampton Crown Court to represent his client who was charged with conveying a prohibited item into prison.  The case was prepared by senior Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier.

Prohibited Item Conveyed into Prison

prohibited item
Northampton Crown Court

Our client had arranged a visit to see her boyfriend in prison.  At the same time she had arranged to convey a mobile telephone and a quantity of the substance spice that at the time had been a legal high.  It has now been made illegal.

The drop was intercepted at the visits area, having been caught on CCTV.  Suspicions had been aroused when our client was seen passing her baby to her boyfriend.  The baby was reluctant to be passed over.  As this was taking place the swap was noticed.  The items were then seized.

Early Instructions

Phil took instructions from  his client. She maintained that she felt that her boyfriend was under pressure from people inside the prison.  She had made repeated attempts to bring it to the attention of the authorities including writing to her local MP.  These problems were largely ignored save that the defendant was moved prisons.  Within days of the defendant being moved her was viciously attacked and left with a noticeable scar.  It was a result of this attack that she felt under compulsion to take the item in to the prison.

Phil gave early realistic advice that all of this information might be effective mitigation, but would not provide her with a defence to bringing a prohibited item into prison. She accepted this advice and entered a guilty plea at her first Crown Court appearance.

Suspended Sentence Imposed

The Judge was initially prepared to adjourn for reports, and once all of the necessary information was before the court the sentencing Judge was prepared to suspend what was an inevitable prison sentence.  The decision was based on the effective mitigation that Phil was able to put before the court.

Contact Us

Crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

It will be important to you that you receive early advice that allows you to out your best case before the court, whether that is the Magistrates’ or Crown Court.  If you face proceedings, please contact Phil or Sarah on 0115 9599550 or email them here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

We are pleased to announce that in readiness for the new criminal legal aid contracts due to commence in April 2017 we have been successful in recruiting Stacey Mighty, currently an associate solicitor at Broadbents solicitors in Derby.

Stacey Mighty VHS Fletchers
Derby Premises

Stacey will initially work from our Nottingham office as a duty solicitor providing advice and representation in police stations and in the Magistrates’ Court.  Her contractual terms allow her to return to Derby later in 2017 and begin work from that office.

A Higher Court Advocate, Stacey qualified in 2005 and achieved the duty solicitor qualification soon after.  She specialises in criminal and road traffic work, with a particular specialism in the Youth Court and those charged with offences involving domestic violence.  She also has significant experience in prosecution breach matters on behalf of the Probation service.

Stacey will be starting work with us in March 2017, and we will publish more information about her contact details then.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor advocate Phil Plant

Nottingham crime solicitor advocate Phil Plant and senior crown court litigator Ruth Campbell recently prepared a case for sentence before Derby Crown Court, securing a constructive rather than punitive sentence despite the published guidelines for possession with intent to supply Class A drugs.

Possession with Intent to Supply

possession with intent sentencing
Derby Crown Court

Our client had been charged with possession with intent to supply both heroin and crack cocaine. The police had carried out a raid on her house and found significant quantities of both types of drug.  The crack cocaine had been concealed about her person.  The quantities recovered were consistent with the supply of both of the drugs.  Our client had a long history of heroin use.

In interview our client had chosen to make no reply to questions put to her, as was her right.  Unfortunately, she then made matters worse for herself by failing to attend her first court hearing. Fortunately, she was allowed to remain on bail despite this.

Basis of Plea

Once her cases reached the Crown Court Phil discussed with the prosecution the possibility of a compromise.  His client would plead guilty to possession with intent to supply crack cocaine but would offer a plea of simple possession of the heroin.  The sale of the crack cocaine was said to be to fund her heroin addiction.  This compromise is called a ‘basis of plea’.

This compromise might prove significant upon sentence as it would be an aggravating feature were our client to be found guilty of supplying to different drugs.

The prosecution accepted the pleas on offer.  Despite a guideline starting point of 3 years even taking into account the plea Phil successfully argued that the case should be adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation service to see whether any realistic alternatives to custody should be imposed.

Constructive Sentence

At sentence,  the Judge was persuaded to impose a suspended prison sentence with community requirements despite the guidelines.  This was a far more constructive disposal and will give our client an opportunity. with support, to put her drug use behind her.

Contact Us

Custody may often not be as unavoidable as it might seem.  With careful preparation and the right approach a client may improve their chances of being dealt with leniently.  If you wish to discuss a case with Phil then please telephone him on 0115 9599550.  To speak to Ruth please telephone her on 01623 675816.  You can also email your enquiries here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

VHS Fletchers were recently instructed to act for two of three defendants appearing before Nottingham Crown Court facing trial for serious allegations of aggravated burglary,  knife-point robbery and kidnapping.   One of our clients also faced an additional serious charge of wounding with intent.

Nottingham Crown Court Trial

The nature of the charges was such that if convicted the defendants would have faced sentences of more than ten years in prison.  They were relieved to be found not guilty of all charges.

The case was prepared for trial by Serena Simpson and Siobhan McGuinness from the firm’s Chesterfield and Derby offices.   Although the case was at Nottingham, these offices were more local to our clients.  One of our clients was represented by one of our team of in-house solicitor advocates William Bennett.  Our second client was represented by experienced counsel Stuart Lody from a local specialist chambers.  William had to take the lead on the advocacy as his client was first on the Indictment.

Aggravated Burglary

The trial ran for eight days.

aggravated burglary trial success
Nottingham Crown Court

The central issue in the case became the credibility of three prosecution witnesses who were said to be either victims or witnesses to the offending.

Following well prepared and skillful cross examination William and Stuart established that a number of significant lies had been told by tose witnesses.

Cross-examination of Untruthful Witnesses

The cross-examination was based on a through understanding of the statements in the case as well as the material that the prosecution had chosen not to use.  This was made possible because comprehensive and detailed instructions on all aspects of our clients’ cases had been taken at an early stage to prepare for trial, followed by an active pursuit of relevant unused material.

The cross-examination was able to establish that not only were there significant inconsistencies between the accounts given by the eye witnesses but also that the accounts differed from earlier accounts given by the same witnesses.

The prosecution’s main witness in relation to the knife-point robbery was forced to admit that he had lied to the police and even more worryingly that he had lied on oath to the jury about who was present at the time of the alleged robbery.  This  lead the Judge  to direct the Jury to acquit two of the defendants in relation to that particular charge.

Prosecution Witness Revealed as Drug Dealer

In another interesting development one of the witnesses conceded that the main prosecution witness to the wounding allegation did indeed sell cannabis as had been maintained by our clients throughout, a fact that had been denied by the witness in question.

It was a trial that really emphasised the importance of trial by Jury and the robust testing of evidence during the trial process. Anyone who believes that prosecution witnesses always tell the truth would have had their eyes opened by this case.

There was an enormous amount of pressure on the defendants throughout the case, pressure that only lifted after the Jury returned its verdicts. The firm’s overall approach, however, assisted the defendant’s to withstand the pressure that comes with being accused of crimes that they had not committed.

Instruct VHS Fletchers

If you face allegations, whether aggravated burglary  or  a different charge, it will be important to you.  As a result it is important that you instruct solicitors who will ensure that your best case can be put before the court.  If you wish to discuss a case with William or Siobhan please contact them on 01332 546818.  Our Chesterfield office can be contacted on 01246 283000.  Specific or more detailed enquiries can be made here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham crime solicitor Nick Walsh was recently instructed by a client facing an allegation of failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis and police assault.  Ultimately Nick persuaded the prosecution not to proceed with the charges.

Medical Defence to Failing to Provide

failing to provide
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

Nick’s client had a history of mental illness.   The account given by the arresting officers showed that his behaviour was bizarre in the extreme.  From the outset, Nick correctly identified that the relevant issue would be whether, bearing in mind the nature of his illness, he was capable of understanding the request made of him and the likely consequences of a refusal.

A psychiatric report was obtained that expressed the view that our client was very ill during his time in police custody.  The  paramedic who examined him at the police station said that his behaviour was a result of mental illness and not the effect of drink or drugs.

Prosecution Determined to Proceed

Despite this information the prosecution were determined to proceed with the prosecution.  Requests to the prosecution eventually produced the full intoxilyser procedure forms.  From those, failing to provide crime solicitorsit became apparent that the officer conducting the procedure had accepted that Nick’s client had a medical reason for his failing to provide a specimen of breath.  It was he who had gone on to arrange for our client to be medically assessed as to whether he was unfit.

It was this decision that had led to the assessment that concluded he was not affected by alcohol, rather illness.

In the Public Interest?

Nick persisted with his representations that it was not in the public interest to persist with the prosecution.  In any event the prosecution would not be in a position to prove the case.  Eventually, having had the case listed for a case management hearing, the prosecution were persuaded to withdraw the charges.  The prosecution was at an end.

Contact Nick Walsh

If you face an allegation at the police station or Magistrates’ Court then please do not hesitate to contact Nick Walsh on 0115 9599550 or email him here.  You will no doubt benefit from his careful analysis of the issues in your case and his persistence in dealing with the prosecution.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor Nick Walsh recently represented a client who was being prosecuted for disqualified driving on two separate occasions.  Once again the progress of this case illustrates that working within the prescriptive Criminal Procedure Rules can place responsibility for providing evidence firmly with the prosecution.  disqualified driving nottingham criminal solicitorIt is another case that shows the failings of the prosecution to provide this evidence.

Nick’s client had been disqualified from driving following a conviction for dangerous driving in 2008.  The disqualification was subject to the mandatory provision that he remain disqualified from driving until he passed an extended driving test.

He had never taken such a test. The prosecution sought to rely on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) record to prove the fact of the disqualification. There was no issue that Nick’s client was the person who was disqualified or that he was driving on the occasions alleged.

Disqualified Driving

Nick’s client informed him that a search of his driver record held with the DVLA showed that the disqualification had been removed. Nick carried out an identical search.  The result was a statement that the disqualification had been removed in 2012.

Pro-active Case Management

disqualified driving trial success
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

At his first appearance our client entered not guilty pleas.  Nick completed the case management form and clearly set out that the issue in the case was whether the disqualification had been removed.  Nick followed this with secure email contact suggesting the evidence that can be agreed.

Nick went further and repeated the relevant issue in correspondence – the prosecution would have to prove that his client remained disqualified from driving.

The prosecution did not respond to the request to agree evidence.  As a result Nick asked that the case be listed for a case management hearing where again the relevant evidential issues whereagain highlighted.

Crown Failed to Secure Admissable Evidence

On the day of trial the prosecution produced an email from the DVLA explaining that the reference to ‘removal’ meant removal from the public record only.  The information was not, however, provided in a form that could be placed in evidence before the court. driving whilst disqualified trial successThe prosecution applied to the court for an adjournment.  Bearing in mind the history of the case and Nick’s engagement with the case management procedure this application was refused.

The prosecution had had ample time to secure the evidence in an admissable form.  As a result the prosecution offered no evidence and Nick’s client was found not guilty of the two charges of disqualified driving.

Contact Nick Walsh

If you face allegations before the Magistrates’ Court and you wish to instruct and experienced solicitor who is capable of adapting to and taking advantage of the changes in case management then please contact Nick Walsh.  He can be telephoned on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Monthly Archives: December 2016


Nottingham Crime and Regulatory solicitor Martin Hadley recently represented a landlord in interview relating to an alleged breach of regulations applying to a house in multiple occupation.

Inspection of a House in Multiple Occupation

The landlord had been visited by the local authority inspectors who had found shortcomings in the facilities offered within the property.  Martin’s client had successfully negotiated a period of time to make alterations to the premises to bring them into line with current legislation.

He had then employed a reputable contractor to undertake the works.  He knew the builder personally house in multiple occupation adviceand had used him for many years.  As a result he believed that the work would be completed to the requested specification and paid for the works to be done.

As a result, the landlord had no reason to suspect that the premises would not fulfil the requirements of the local authority.

Builder’s Failure

Unfortunately a subsequent visit by the inspectors revealed that the works did not fulfil the statutory requirements and the landlord was invited by the Council for an interview at their offices. This was to be a recorded interview.  The purpose was to gather evidence for a potential prosecution.  Our client was to be cautioned at the start of the interview.

Understandably, our client was extremely worried about the interview.  Unfortunately, rather than instruct us immediately he instead instructed an expert to produce a report to show  the council that he had completed the works to the relevant statutory requirements for a house in multiple occupation.  Of course, he hadn’t.

Defence of Reasonable Excuse

Sadly, this expense was not needed.  The report could not address the defence that our client needed to put forward.  Once he received advice

homes in multiple occupation advice

Martin was able to advice him that he would be able to put forward a reasonable excuse for failing to comply with the statutory requirements, that being the instruction and payment of a builder of appropriate skill and experience to undertake the works.

In order to allow our client to budget for his legal fees Martin agreed a fixed fee.  Within this fee, Martin liaised with the local authority to find out the detail of the allegations that would be put in interview, and advised his client prior to interview.  This meant he was able to ensure that his client brought along a bundle of relevant papers to the interview.  The advice continued throughout the interview.

As a result the client was able to raise the necessary defence and support it with documentary evidence.  The council decided to take the matter no further.  No court proceedings were brought.

Contact Martin Hadley

This case illustrates the importance of taking early advice from a specialist lawyer in order to ensure that your case is dealt with efficiently and without incurring unnecessary expense.

If you are a landlord responsible for a house in multiple occupation and receive contact from the local authority please telephone Martin on 0115 9599550 or email him here.  He will be able to provide you with advice on how best to deal with the allegations and agree fees for affordable advice.

Monthly Archives: December 2016

Nottingham criminal solicitor Lauren Fisher secured a not guilty verdict for her client in an unusual case alleging the aiding and abetting of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and a second charge of common assault.

Re-opening Mode of Trial?

nottingham crime solicitor actual bodily harm
Nottingham Magistrates Court

On the day of trial the case was listed before a District Judge. Although Magistrates had previously accepted that this could be a case dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court, the Judge took the view that that the case ought to be before the Crown Court.  This was on the basis that the starting point ought to be one of two years after trial based on the sentencing guidelines.  The assault was said to be prolonged, had involved a weapon, and was in a domestic setting so involved a breach of trust.

Lauren argued successfully that it was inappropriate to re-open this decision on the day of trial and the trial proceeded.

Crown Failure Over ABE Interview

The Crown intended to rely on Achieving Best Evidence (ABE) pre-recorded interviews as evidence in chief for the witness. Unfortunately for the witness the prosecution had not applied to the court for this to be allowed, and then failed to ask for permission out of time.

As a result, the witness had to give all of their evidence ‘live’ rather than just be cross-examined.  This benefited Lauren’s client as the witness departed from this original interview account and was able to be cross-examined on these differences in account.

Lauren has also investigated material held by the police and prosecution that did not form part of the case.  This unused material included phone records of calls between Lauren’s client and a co-defendant.  The allegation was that Lauren’s client had telephoned the co-accused to bring them to the address to carry out the assault.

The phone records showed that there was no such call.  Lauren ensured that this fact was admitted by the prosecution and would be before the District Judge as evidence.

Too Many Inconsistencies to Ignore

The cross-examination on the inconsistencies in combination with the lie about the phone call meant that the Judge found Lauren’s defendant not guilty.  In reaching this decision he specifically announced that there were too many large inconsistencies to ignore.

This decision was a relief to Lauren’s client as the co-accused, following conviction, was committed to the Crown Court for sentence with an indication that custody was inevitable.

Contact Lauren Fisher

nottingham crime solicitor actual bodily harm trial
Nottingham crime solicitor Lauren Fisher

Should you wish to contact Lauren Fisher in relation to a case at either the police station or Magistrates’ Court involving Actual Bodily Harm or any other charge then please telephone her on 0115 9599550 or use the contact form below.


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