Monthly Archives: January 2017
Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer recently instructed Barrister Vanessa Marshall of 7 Bedford Row chambers. The allegation of a serious sexual offence, and Lisa’s client was one of two defendant’s on trial.
Complainant Gave a Detailed Account
The prosecution case was that the complainant had been targeted in a nightclub by both defendants as she was drunk and vulnerable. In evidence the complainant alleged that she only had a partial memory of leaving the club and what happened afterwards. She maintained that she was not in control of her actions or in a position to consent to sexual contact owing to her intoxication.
The three went to a flat and she maintained that she drifted in and out of consciousness, became aware that she was being made to have sex against her will, and pretended to be unconscious hoping that they would leave her alone. She alleged that they did, and she was able to take her belongings and flee. She complained of being ill-treated to a taxi driver and to her mother.
The complainant was able to give the location of the flat that she had been taken to. The co-accused was arrested and he gave the name of Lisa’s client. Their mobile phones were seized and interrogated. Photographs of the complainants underwear were recovered and a video footage of Lisa’s client having sex with the complainant who seemed to be asleep and wasn’t participating. Further photos were found that did not show either defendant in a good light. Further interrogation of the phones showed that the defendants were part of a Whatsapp group that publicised their sexual encounters and kept count.
Client Accepted Poor Conduct but not Rape
Lisa’s client and co-accused accepted being the two men involved, and accepted sexual activity in the night club. They maintained that the complainant was not as intoxicated as she latter alleged. A request for disclosure of CCTV from
outside the club supported this account. Both men accepted having intercourse with the complainant. They accept that there conduct in relation to the photos, filming and messages was distasteful and showed a lack of respect, they had not raped the complainant. Detail they they could provide of the complainants personal circumstances could only have come from conversation with her, suggesting she was sober.
Phone Evidence Supported the Defence
Our client argued that the complainant arose out of regret after the fact. There was evidence to show that she had spoken to a friend in the taxi back to her mothers, but had deleted that call record from her phone before the police could seize it. She gave different accounts as to her recollection in her interviews and in her first description of events to those concerned in the investigation.
Although a trial for a sexual offence should be heard quickly, proceedings were prolonged. The first trial concluded with a hung jury. There was a second trial in December 2016 that resulted in both defendant’s being acquitted.
Client had Legal Aid for Sexual Offence Trial
The case had a number of complexities that counsel and Lisa identified. With the benefit of legal aid, Lisa was able to:
- Instruct a medical expert to comment on injuries seen to the complainant
- A telecommunications expert who provided crucial evidence as to deleted calls and commentary on call history between her client and the complaiant
- Instruct expert counsel to represent her client
Although counsel was from London chambers, Lisa knew that she would spend as much time as preparation of the case would entail. Significant time was spent with our client in conference. Lisa drafted a comprehensive defence statement dealing with every aspect of her client’s defence so that he could not be criticised at trial. Her client’s instructions were eight pages long. Lisa was able to secure a number of references that demonstrated her client’s exemplary character away from these proceedings.
Counsel fought extremely hard on behalf of Lisa’s client to secure this result and avoid a conviction and sentence that would have been measured in years.
Contact Lisa Sawyer
Whatever the charge you face before the Crown Court, be it a sexual offence or other allegation, Lisa will be able to provide you with expert specialist legal advice, instruct the best advocates and secure any expert evidence necessary to assist you case. Please telephone her on 0115 9599550 or email her here.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
We hold criminal legal aid contracts that allow us to continue representing our existing and new clients under the legal aid scheme from our offices in Nottingham, Derby, Chesterfield, Mansfield and Newark.
Our Newark Office
Our office in Newark demonstrates our commitment to providing advice and representation to local communities who in other ways have been let down by the justice system.
Newark no longer has a police station where suspects can be interviewed and the Magistrates’ Court closed several years ago. Those appearing in court now have to travel over 20 miles to Nottingham Magistrates’ Court, while those arrested are taken to Mansfield police station, a similar distance.
Local Offices Serving Local Communities
VHS Fletchers has made the decision that we will be able to provide criminal advice and representation in the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts while being based in the heart of the communities that we serve.
We will hopefully contribute to reducing the stress and anxiety that investigations and proceedings can bring by making it easy and affordable for our clients to visit their legal representatives in a local office.
This approach should also allow for our clients to receive continuity in terms of the advisers and solicitors they meet, which we know clients value.
Contact Us to Discuss Criminal Legal Aid
If you face police investigation then advice and assistance at the police station will always be free under criminal legal aid. Magistrates’ criminal legal aid is both means and merits tested, and means tested for the Crown Court.
We can give you further advice at your local office.
Alternatively you can use the contact form below.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Chesterfield Crime solicitor David Gittins recently defended a client before Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court charged with an allegation of domestic assault. Police Bodycam footage was of key importance.
David’s client was found not guilty following a full hearing of the evidence at trial.
David first met his in Chesterfield Court cells. He had been refused bail by the Police. David made a successful bail application. As we offer continuity of representation, David then continued to deal with the case on behalf of his client.
Client of Good Character
This involved several meetings with him at our Chesterfield office to prepare the case. David’s client had never been in trouble with the police or court before. The potential effects of a conviction for this offence could be far reaching.
It was said that David’s client and partner had argued following a family meal. His partner demanded that he spend the night on the sofa. It was said that in response to that he grabbed his partner by the throat and hit her, causing scratches to her neck and a cut to her lip.
A neighbour gave evidence that she had heard the incident through the wall and had spoken to the complainant before calling the police.
Our client provided a different version of events. He said that he had been grabbed by his partner and hit to the face. He had pushed her away and taken hold of her to prevent further attack. He maintained that his actions were reasonable. He acted in self-defence.
David’s client entered a not guilty plea and the case was listed for trial. David asked the prosecution to serve additional evidence before the trial including body warn camera (BodyCam) footage from the police/ This turned out to be crucial to the defence.
Crucial Police BodyCam Footage
On behalf of his client, David had the complainant confirm parts of her evidence again. Importantly she stated that as she didn’t strike her partner, he had no injuries.
David was then able to show the complainant and the Court the BodyCam footage from the police who attended the incident. Recorded comments and injuries meant that the complainant had to change her account. Further inconsistencies in her account were then brought out by questioning.
Although the neighbour gave the same account that she had originally given to the police, David was easily able to establish that she could not give evidence as to what had actually happened on the other side of the wall.
Finally, David made sure that the prosecution read into evidence the agreed statement from a police officer confirming that his client has a fresh injury to his eye when first seen by the police.
David’s client then gave evidence on his own behalf.
David was able to rely on the burden and standard of proof when speaking on behalf of his client. The BodyCam footage and his client’s injuries undermined the account of the complainant. In order to find his client guilty the Magistrates had to be sure that he used unlawful force.
The Magistrates returned their verdict after a short while. They could not be sure that the complainant’s account was true and as a result found David’s client not guilty. He kept his good name.
Defendants in domestic violence cases might feel that it is difficult to put their case across. This is why there will be a benefit in instructing a diligent and focused specialist criminal solicitor who will review all of the evidence in detail.
In this case, an analysis of what the complainant had said as recorded on the police Bodycam allowed David to demonstrate that the complainant might not be telling the truth.
If you wish David to represent you at either the police station or Magistrates’ Court please telephone 01246 28300 or email him here.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Senior Crown Court litigator Laura Clarson was responsible for the preparation of a case before Wolverhampton Crown Court recently. She assembled an expert firearms team of barrister and witness. Her client was acquitted by a unanimous jury verdict following a trial lasting eight days.
Expert Firearms Team
Counsel Nick Doherty from Brudenell Chambers instructed to represent our client. He has a particular specialism in firearms law so was a perfect choice. Laura also instructed firearms expert David Dyson to comment on the evidence as to whether live or blank ammunition was used.
Laura’s client had a licence to hold firearms. He was charged with possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of unlawful violence. It was said that he fired live rounds of ammunition in the middle of the street in which he lived.
Bullet casings recovered from the scene together with evidence of an independent witness which supported this. Laura’s client maintained that no live rounds were discharged from the rifle and that he fired a single blank round in order to scare away two males. They were armed with a machete and a samurai sword. They were threatening him and his sons with those weapons.
As a result, our client claimed that no unlawful violence was threatened. He was acting in defence of himself and his family.
Mr Dyson, as a leading expert witness in the field of firearms, was called to give evidence as to the type of ammunition recovered. and was able to give independent opinion supportive of our client’s case.
Laura had to actively pursue the prosecution for undisclosed evidence. A witness had given information to the police that was helpful to her client. This information had not been disclosed by the police because she wanted to remain anonymous.
Counsel was successful in arguing that her statement should be read to the jury in support of our client’s case.
Judge Dismissive of Defence
Despite direction from the judge that was very dismissive of our client’s case, the jury found him not guilty, presumably on the basis that his actions may have been reasonable in all of the circumstances of the case.
After trial, counsel commented that Laura was ‘a credit to the firm really fights for her clients’.
This case came to us through our consultant solicitor Andrew Broome who has a specialist knowledge of firearms law. If you are charged with a firearms offence then you will need an expert firearms team to give you advice and representation then we will be able to help.
Please contact Laura on 0115 9599550 or Andrew on 0115 9441233. Alternatively, they can be emailed here.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Nottingham Solicitor Advocate Phil Plant secured a conditional discharge for his client who was originally charged with affray before Nottingham Crown Court. Two co -accused faced the affray charge and charges of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The case was prepared by senior crown litigator Caine Ward.
Late Night Incident in Drink
The incident took place in a fast food restaurant in Nottingham. Both sides of the incident had been drinking after a night out in the city centre. Phil’s client was with his parents and his uncle.
In the restaurant words were exchanged with the co-accused. The CCTV obtained by Phil showed that his client had been involved in the early part of the incident.
As a result of his behaviour he was manhandled out of the shop by security staff.
In the meantime a melee broke out involving the co-defendants. They assaulted our client’s father by punching him. This led to him being knocked out by one co-accused and then whilst on the floor being stamped on by the other co-accused.
Phil’s client was still being restrained at his point, but made threats towards the co-defendants.
Plea to a Lesser Charge
The Crown accepted a plea from Phil’s client to an offence under s4 Public Order Act. Phil negotiated this plea on the basis that our client had offered the threats after his father had been knocked out.
In relation to the incident as a whole, thankfully our client’s father made a full recovery.
Conditional Discharge Imposed
Following argument persuasive mitigation from Phil, the Recorder was prepared to deal with his client separately from the two co-accused, ending the ordeal of court proceedings. He felt able to take the very unusual step of imposing a 12 month conditional discharge. If his client is in further trouble during the period of the discharge he can be re-sentenced for the original allegation and any fresh offence. Otherwise the conviction is ‘spent’.
Often the prosecution and court need persuading to look at alleged offence realistically and sympathetically. As a result you will need a persuasive specialist advocate. If you wish to instruct us or seek initial advice then please telephone Phil or Caine on 0115 9599550 or email them here.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
We have been fortunate enough to be able to recruit Clare Roberts, education law specialist and criminal duty solicitor to join us in the Spring.
She will be in post in time to provide advice to those parents who will have been disappointed by decisions made for primary school admissions. These will be announced in April.
A Complex Area of Law
Clare recognises that issues surrounding education will be very important to those affected. She will be able to provide our clients with expert legal advice upon the complex rules, regulations and laws that relate to these matters.
Help will be available in the following areas:
- Special educational needs (SEN)
- admission appeals
- exclusion appeals
- discrimination claims
- problems arising at university such as plagiarism or misconduct
- judicial review
Although the intention is that she will provide advice and representation for clients served by our six offices across the East Midlands, she has travelled further afield in the past to provide specialist advice that can be hard to find.
Fixed Fees will be Published
Over the coming weeks we will be devising and publishing fixed fees for certain types of work that will allow our clients to decide upon the level of service and assistance that they would wish and budget accordingly.
Monthly Archives: January 2017
Work continues at our new Derby office and we will continue to publicise developments as they happen. Here is the current update.
Prison Law Advice in Derby
Open plan office space is being developed so that our Derby crime solicitors can be joined in April by Rosamunde Benn who will be increasing her hours to provide crime and prison law advice and representation from our Derby office.
The staff kitchen has been installed on the first floor – he integrated fridge and dishwasher caused a flutter of excitement, particularly as the fridge door doesn’t fall off when you open it.
The old reception desk has been removed. Although the intention had been to keep it, further investigations showed it to be made of old wardrobe doors. We decided perhaps we could do better than that.
That’s A ‘No’ to Green Tiles
A new client interview room has been created at the front of the building. We have decided to fill in the hatch that was presumably manned to monitor entry to the premises in its previous incarnation.
Fortunately there was no need for a new floor in the reception area, and a decision was made to board over the existing tiles. The colour sea spray green was something of an acquired taste.
A Stone’s Throw From Derby Magistrates’ Court
Inevitably, the prediction that we would be in the new space by the end of January was optimistic, and we are hopeful that we will be operational by the beginning of March. We won’t be a thousand miles away from our existing office and will remain a stone’s throw away from the Magistrates’ Court. It will be rude not to call in if you are unfortunate enough to be making an appearance.
Our Derby team will be able to advise you fully on procedure, likely outcome and funding.
In the meantime our Derby crime solicitors John Young, Nick Wright and John Hay will be available to deal with your police station and Magistrates’ Court matters. William Bennett and Siobhan McGuinness will look after your interests at the Crown Court.
Please telephone to speak to them on 01332 546818 or email us here.