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Denney Lau

photograph by Thomas Wesley criminal defence lawyer denney lau
Partner and criminal higher court advocate Denney Lau

Denney has always been fascinated by criminal defence area of law. He started his career in 2005 as a police station representative and crown court clerk in Leicester, he qualified as a solicitor in 2007 and relocated to Chesterfield. He joined VHS Fletchers in October 2017, was made an Associate Solicitor in 2021 and further promoted to Partner in charge of our Derby office in 2023.

Since qualification, Denney had gone from strength to strength. Denney continued to represent clients at the Police Stations and the Magistrates’ Court, with the offence range from relatively simple shop thefts to spending multiple days at the police stations representing clients facing allegations of murder.

He has a particular interest in advocacy, initially started out in the Magistrates’ Court defending his clients in trials, making detailed and convincing bail applications and fully mitigate on clients’ behalf to achieve best possible sentences.

Denney has a keen interest in self-development and providing the best service to his clients, he completed his Master’s in legal Practice part time and in 2019, Denney secured his Solicitors’ Higher Rights qualification, allowing him to represent his clients before the Crown Court and also the Court of Appeal. Denney continued to defend his clients regularly at crown court, from Plea and Case Management hearings to trials, including multiple weeks drug conspiracy trials. However, despite his busy schedule, Denney continued to represent his clients at the police stations, Youth Court and Magistrates’ Court.

In 2023, Denney also cross qualified as a Barrister, however, he will continue to provide legal services as a Solicitor and Solicitor Advocate at VHS Fletchers.

Outside of work, Denney is the President of Sheffield and District Law Society, in this capacity he attends various events in order to represent other solicitors’ interests and promote access to justice. Denney is also a keen runner having completed many ultra marathons and marathons in England and Europe.


Derby Office:
8 St Mary’s Gate,

Tel: 01332 546818

Email: denney.lau@vhsfletchers.co.uk

R v B.  Murder. Road rage incident resulting in death of a road user. Charge was reduced to Manslaughter and bail was secured pending trial at the Crown Court.

R v S. Possession of offensive weapon. Youth accused of possession of a knife. Full trial in the Youth Court, due to detailed cross examination on the witness’s previous inconsistent statement, Client was found not guilty after trial.

R v T. Sexual activity with a child.  Youth accused of non consensual sexual activity with step sister – despite indication from the District Judge that the client will receive youth detention, but with careful mitigation he avoided custody

R v H. Possession of class B with intent to supply. Defendant was found in possession of large quantity of cannabis, police expert was fully cross examined in trial and own defence expert was instructed. Found not guilty after trial.

R v R. Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. Defendant was charged with kicking and stamping another in a public house causing a permanent four inch scar on forehead. Public house was contacted by the defence and due to further evidence obtained and careful cross examination, the Defendant was found not guilty after trial.

Mr S. Taxi Appeal. Represented client in hearing before local authority appeal committee against the decision to refuse to grant him a hackney carriage taxi licence. Thorough preparation of his case ensured that all available evidence was presented to the committee, resulting in the granting of a licence.


William Bennett

Derby Criminal Solicitor Advocate William Bennett
Derby Crime Solicitor Advocate William Bennett

William qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and specialised in criminal law. He built up a formidable Magistrates’ Court reputation before achieving his Higher Rights Qualification in 2010.

He joined VHS Fletchers in 2011 in order to expand his experience and caseload before the Crown Court. Over the last five years he has gained extensive experience across the range of criminal law cases including firearms offence, robbery, major drugs conspiracies, sexual assaults, fraud, burglary and other dishonesty offences. He has undertaken the confiscation proceedings that flow from such cases.

He has successfully represented clients before the Court of Appeal in relation to arguments as to manifestly excessive sentences.

William’s particular strength is his ability to communicate to a jury.

He is a member of SAHCA (The Solicitors Association of Higher Courts Advocates).


Derby Office:
8 St Mary’s Gate

Tel: 01332 546818
Email: william.bennett@vhsfletchers.co.uk

R v D Sexual Assault. Acquittal of man accused of sexual assault – Leicester Crown Court.

R v L Court of Appeal. Reduction of a manifestly excessive sentence imposed for breach of restraining order by Derby Crown Court.

R v P Robbery. Client acquitted of knife point robbery of a taxi.

R v H. Domestic Assault. Client acquitted of GBH said to have been caused when client’s behaviour forced the complainant to climb out of a window.

R v H Robbery. Court of Appeal. Successful expedited appeal for a vulnerable youth who initially received a custodial sentence.

R v B Derby Crown Court.  Successfully argued for a non-custodial sentence leading to positive client feedback.  More detail here.

R v J Aggravated Burglary Lead advocate in multi-handed trial.  Client was found not guilty after trial for allegations of aggravated burglary and kidnap. More detail here.

R v M Class A drugs offences. Sheffield Crown Court. Significant reduction in sentence following mitigation in a case where drugs were taken into prison.  More detail here.

R v K Class A drugs offences. Nottingham Crown Court.  Mitigation secured a deferred sentence for client on a late plea to possession with intent to supply two types of Class A drug.  More detail here.

R v P Class A drugs offences. Derby Crown Court. Successful challenge to the expertise of a police ‘expert’ witness leads to not guilty verdict for possession with intent to supply charge.  More detail here.


Jon Hullis

Jon Hullis – Partner, Regulatory and Motoring Law Solicitor

Jon qualified as a solicitor in 1997 and was a Duty Solicitor from 1999. He is a Higher Courts Advocate who is qualified to represent his clients before the Crown Court and Court of Appeal.

As a result, Jon has substantial experience defending every type of criminal case, providing advice and representation in police stations, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts, and has appeared in several cases in the Court of Appeal and in the High Court.

In addition to his criminal defence cases, Jon works on Regulatory Law cases where he represents the Health and Safety Executive in prosecutions relating to breaches of all aspects of health and safety legislation throughout the country. He often represents the Health and Safety Executive at Coroner’s Inquests. He also represents clients in cases relating to firearms law.

He has extensive experience of defending clients charged with driving offences, from speeding to causing death by dangerous driving. Jon has represented professional drivers and those whose livelihoods depend on having a driving licence. Jon is an expert in the technical defences in cases such as drink and drug driving, including post-driving consumption and spiked drinks. He regularly represents clients in putting forward evidence of “exceptional hardship” to avoid disqualification for having twelve or more penalty points. Jon has successfully made legal arguments for the court to use its discretion not to impose mandatory driving disqualifications on the basis of “Special Reasons” for cases involving drink/drug driving, dangerous driving of Large Goods Vehicles and drink driving on e-scooters.

Jon’s forensic approach to cases means that his skills have also been successfully brought to bear on the more technical kinds of proceedings before the Magistrates’ Court. He has considerable success in defending the more complex cases including prosecutions for Dangerous Dogs and applications for Criminal Behaviour Orders.

Jon has provided in-house training to businesses who operate fleets of vehicles, and given talks to motoring groups and clubs.


Nottingham Office:
111 Carrington Street,

Tel: 0115 9599550

Email: jon.hullis@vhsfletchers.co.uk

Not guilty of failing to provide driver’s details. Business owner found not guilty of failing to provide driver’s details (section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988) after a single written demand from a police officer. Client gave evidence that he had returned the notice with the required information. Magistrates acquitted as they could not be sure that the reply had not been sent.

Representation of Estate Agent – 12 points but no driving ban. Busy and successful estate agent faced a penalty points ban for accumulating 12 penalty points within 3 years. Thorough preparation of evidence to successfully argue that no ban should be imposed due exceptional hardship based on the inevitable impact on the business and the consequent risk of staff redundancies.

Representation of nightclub Door Supervisor. Represented SIA-badged door supervisor charged with assaulting a customer who had been ejected from the nightclub. Video evidence showed that the doorman had not acted in self-defence and would have been convicted if he had a trial. Guilty plea entered and the case then turned on getting the best possible outcome for the client. Thankfully, the court agreed with the mitigation and character references and imposed a Conditional Discharge – the lowest sentence possible.

Possession of shotgun without certificate. Representation in the magistrates’ court of a young farmer whose shotgun certificate had been revoked. Due to an oversight, his change of address had not been notified, meaning the notification had been sent to his former address and he was unaware of the revocation and was therefore in possession of a shotgun without a certificate. Guilty plea and significant mitigation led to a small fine of £93 being imposed.

Representation of shotgun licence holder charged with transferring a shotgun to a non-licence holder and failing to notify the transfer. Successful representations to the prosecutor resulted in one charge being withdrawn. Powerful mitigation persuaded the Magistrates to impose a Conditional Discharge for the remaining offence.

Representation of a retired gunsmith following a police search warrant being executed at his home and the seizure of his collection of more than a hundred antique firearms. Represented at formal police interview under caution. Presentation of evidence and detailed expert submissions to the police led to the return of every seized firearm.

R v P. Court of Appeal. Appeal against sentence. Four year sentence reduced to two years on appeal.

R v W. Court of Appeal. Appeal against sentence. Sentence of 36 months for offence of unlawful wounding reduced to 28 months on appeal.

R v H. Court of Appeal. Appeal against sentence. Sentence of 4 years 8 months for drug trafficking reduced to 4 years on appeal.

R v E. Court of Appeal. Appeal against sentence. Successful appeal for offences of supplying Class A drugs. Sentence reduced from 3 years 4 months to 2 years 9 months.

R v J. Court of Appeal. Appeal against sentence. Successful appeal against prison sentence for historic sexual offence. Replaced with Community Order.

High Court Appeal by Case Stated. Appeal on a point of law against the conviction by Magistrates of client charged with domestic assault. Client was accused of a physical assault on his estranged wife. Following cross-examination of prosecution witnesses by Jon Hullis, Magistrates did not find the physical assault proved, but nevertheless went on to convict of a non-physical assault. Jon lodged an appeal and appeared at the High Court, resulting in the conviction being quashed.

Representation of e-scooter rider for “driving” with excess alcohol. Successful argument of Special Reasons with no driving ban imposed for a student who rode the council-hired e-scooter a short distance with no other vehicles around.

Representation of Large Goods Vehicle driver charged with dangerous driving after his vehicle overturned on an urban roundabout. Successful argument of Special Reasons with no driving ban imposed based on the unusual circumstances involving the operator not supplying appropriate load restraints and wrongly telling the driver that it was safe, with a threat of being sacked if he didn’t obey.

Successful representation of business owner to keep his driving licence. Representation of the owner of a chain of pharmacies who had accumulated 12 penalty points for speeding offences. Thorough preparation and gathering of evidence resulted in successful argument of “exceptional hardship” and the client being able to continue driving.

Speeding – Special Reasons found – No ban or points. Represented director of a security company who overtook an unmarked police car and was seen to drive at over 90 MPH in a 50 limit. Careful preparation of case and supporting evidence. Successful argument of Special Reasons as a result of client’s genuine fear for his safety from the occupants of another car after well documented threats to his life. Resulted in no ban, no penalty points, no fine and no prosecution costs.

VOSA Prosecution. Representing five clients who were HGV drivers accused of a conspiracy to falsify tachograph records resulting from alleged driving without tacho cards inserted.

Security Industry Authority prosecution. Clients were directors of a security company prosecuted by the SIA for using unlicensed security operatives.

Careless Driving. Client was a motorcyclist charged with careless driving after he was involved in a collision that left him with serious spinal injuries.

Dangerous Driving. Client was a type-1 diabetic driver charged with dangerous driving after he suffered a sudden hypoglycaemic episode while driving, resulting in numerous collisions on the M1 and adjoining roads and culminating in a serious collision with a building. A report was commissioned from the country’s leading expert on ‘hypoglycaemia unawareness’ resulting in the Crown Prosecution Service offering no evidence and the charge being dismissed.

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving. Client was a farmer investigated after a motorcyclist died following a collision with his vehicle as he made a right turn. Representation at investigation stage resulted in no charges being brought.

Represented off-duty police officer accused of using Disorderly Behaviour towards police officers. Trial involved cross-examination of police prosecution witnesses and detailed presentation of CCTV evidence that proved the client’s innocence. Client acquitted.

Representation of driver charged with causing the death of a motorcyclist by dangerous driving and whilst uninsured. Also, representation of her husband for permitting her to drive whilst uninsured.


Nick Walsh

nottingham criminal defence lawyer Nick Walsh
Nottingham partner and crime solicitor Nick Walsh

Nick has been qualified as a solicitor for nearly 30 years and has specialised in criminal law since qualification. He has been qualified as a Duty Solicitor for much of that time, and has held the solicitors’ Higher Court Qualification since 2006 which allows him to provide continuity or representation in the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.

As a result, Nick has a wealth of experience and as such is a well-respected and trusted solicitor, not only by his clients but also by his peers and other professional court users.

Nick is known for paying great attention to the detail of the case, coupled with an ability to identify the real and important issues in a case, whether it be for trial or mitigation following plea. This calm and structured approach furthers his aim to make what is often a very daunting experience as easy as possible by taking time to explain what is to happen in a simple and easy to understand way.

Nick is a partner and the departmental supervisor for Nottingham police station and Magistrates’ Court work. He is also a member of the Nottinghamshire Law Society Criminal Business Sub-Committee.

Recent cases and feedback for Nick can be found here and here.


Nottingham Office:
111 Carrington Street,

Tel: 0115 9599550
Email: nick.walsh@vhsfletchers.co.uk

R v M Historic Appeal against Conviction. The client was convicted of a serious wounding of a police officer in the early ‘80’s. The appeal was allowed on the basis that the police conduct in obtaining confessions was, by modern standards, so poor that the confessions should not have been before the jury and therefore the conviction was unsafe.

R v L Sexual Assault. The client was a 13 year old boy of good character facing a charge of sexual assault on an 11 year old girl. The case involved cross-examination of two vulnerable witnesses via the video link, after which the client was acquitted.

R v B Potential Driving Disqualification. The client admitted 4 further speeding offences while already having 12 penalty points on his licence. It was successfully argued that the client would suffer exceptional hardship if the defendant was disqualified and the client kept his licence.

R v S Knife Point Robbery. Careful mitigation meant that an 18 year old of good character avoided what was apparently an inevitable custodial sentence by reference to the guidelines.

R v W Murder. The client faced an allegation of murder having thrown a metal pole at a neighbour during an argument. Thorough preparation, including liaising with the police and home office pathologist to recreate the level of force required to kill using a dead pig, persuaded the prosecution to accept a plea to manslaughter instead.


Andrew Wesley

Andrew has been qualified as a solicitor for over 20 years, specialising in criminal law since qualification.

He has been qualified as a Duty Solicitor for the majority of that time, and has held the solicitors’ Higher Court Qualification since 2006, specialising in Crown Court Advocacy since then, in combination with the advocacy that sometimes follows at the Court of Appeal.

solicitor advocate andrew wesley
Managing Partner and Solicitor Advocate Andrew Wesley

The decision to transfer his skills to the Crown Court followed years of gaining substantial experience as a trial lawyer before the Magistrates’ Court, where he represented clients at contested committal proceedings for the most serious offences including murder, and undertook the preparation and advocacy in complex trials of up to 2 weeks in length. At the same time, he was providing advice and representation in the police station and having responsibility for a significant Crown Court litigator caseload.

In the 10 years since he began regularly appearing in the Crown Court, Andrew has provided the advocacy for clients who have faced the full range of criminal offences – drugs conspiracies, sexual offences, road traffic fatalities, serious incidents of public disorder and violence and associated confiscation proceedings.

In relation to management roles, Andrew is currently the Managing Partner and Training Principal for VHS Fletchers, while continuing to manage the Crown Court department across the firm. He has a responsibility for training and recruitment, as well as business planning and other partnership issues. Locally, he was instrumental in challenging the proposals for new criminal legal aid contracting which would have restricted client access to justice, being latterly a member of steering group for the Fair Crime Contracts Alliance, the limited company that brought the judicial review proceedings.

Andrew is currently the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Nottingham Law Centre, and is a member of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association, Solicitors Association of Higher Courts Advocates, the local and national Law Society, and an occasional member of the Nottinghamshire Law Society Criminal Business Sub-Committee.


Nottingham Office:
111 Carrington Street,

Tel: 0115 9599550
Email: andrew.wesley@vhsfletchers.co.uk

R v F. Murder. Litigator where a client faced a re-trial following a court decision that she was responsible for the death of her two children. This was a complex case involving the now discredited Dr Meadows and Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. Having secured bail for the client, the crown were persuaded that there was insufficient evidence to pursue a re-trial and proceedings were stayed.

R v J. and Others. Court of Appeal. Advocate at a successful appeal to overturn a 1986 conviction for wounding with intent. The court held that applying modern standards of fairness, a conviction from 1986 for grievous bodily harm with intent was unsafe where the appellant had been denied access to a solicitor and contemporaneous records of police interviews had not been made.

R v T. and another. Aggravated Burglary. Advocate where a client faced an allegation that he and a friend had forced entry with a weapon into the home of a man in his 60s. The starting point upon conviction would have been at least 10 years. Careful analysis of additional material and cross examination of the complainant discredited his account and the client was found not guilty.

R v P. Money Laundering. Advocate where the client was a woman of good character who faced allegations that she had sent money, knowing it to be the proceeds of crime, out of the country at the request of her husband. A careful examination in chief and speech meant that the jury was not long in finding her not guilty.

R v H. Death by Dangerous Driving. Advocate where client was said to have driven a van (new to him) at excessive speed in wet conditions on roads that were not known to him, whilst drinking vodka and sniffing cocaine. Following the collision, in which others were seriously injured, he fled the scene seeking to blame the deceased for the accident. Successful negotiation of a favourable basis of plea led to a sentence of 3 years.

R v K. Affray. Advocate representing the only client to seek a trial in relation to a serious public order incident involving a member of the public being assaulted and his car seriously damaged by a group of youths. The client was found not guilty after the identification procedures adopted by the officer in the case were discredited through cross-examination.

R v L. Threats to Kill. Advocate representing client at trial for a serious allegation in a domestic setting. Thorough preparation relating to phone and social media evidence combined with appropriate cross-examination discredited the account put forward by the complainant and the client was acquitted.

R v J. Exposure. Advocate representing repeat offender at trial for exposure to his probation officer.

R v S. Perverting the Course of Justice.  Advocate in case where client found not guilty of destroying evidence in ‘cash for crash’ conspiracy.  Read more here.

R v L. Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. Advocate in case where client found not guilty of assaulting a teenager by hitting them over the head with a length of wood.  Read more here.

R v M.  Confiscation. Successful opposition to review of available amount in POCA case.

R v S.  Rape and S18.  Advocate in case where Crown persuaded to offer no evidence resulting in not guilty verdicts.  Reliability of the witness challenged early in the case.

R v D. Paedophile hunter prosecution.  Advocate in case where prosecution stayed as an abuse of process owing to disclosure failures. More here.

R v M. Paedophile hunter prosecution. Advocate in case where early request for disclosure of technical evidence led to prosecution offering no evidence and not guilty verdicts.  More here.

R v F. Supply Class A drugs. Advocate securing a suspended sentence for adult client who pleaded guilty to allegations of supply of both Class A and Class B drugs.

R v R. Sexual Assault. Trial advocate where jury found client not guilty of two sexual assaults and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

R v N. Conspiracy to Supply Class A drugs. Trial advocate for client accused of being part of a large scale conspiracy to supply Class A drugs.  Not guilty following three days of jury deliberation.

R v M.  Murder.  Junior advocate during Covid lockdown at Peterborough Crown Court involving death of client’s husband at the hands of client and lodger.  Led by Chris Henley KC of Mountford Chambers.

R v J.  Supply Class A drugs and Fraud.  Client exploited by father to commit offences on the dark web, father taking advantage of our client’s mental frailties.  Reports obtained and Crown persuaded not to proceed as it was not in the public interest despite the serious nature of the offending.  Our client would have successfully availed himself of the Modern Slavery statutory defence.

R v P.  Conspiracy to Supply Class B drugs.  Not guilty verdicts in a multi-handed trial alleging supply of cannabis and money laundering offences.  Vacuum sealed bags of cannabis found in a cupboard in client’s flat.  Defence was lack of knowledge.

R v M.  Rape.  Not guilty verdict after trial of allegation of rape at a house party.  Evidence of 17 witnesses at the party agreed that tended to show that the evidence of the complainant could not be relied upon.  The client did not give evidence.

R v S. Murder. Junior Advocate for client accused of joint enterprise murder led by Vanessa Marshall KC of 7 Bedford Row. Not guilty verdict, re-trial ordered on manslaughter.

R v B.  Murder. Junior advocate in high profile case involving deaths of partner and three children.  Led by Vanessa Marshall KC of 7 Bedford Row.

R v B.  Murder.  Junior advocate in a case involving the deaths of a mother and her two young children.  Led by Chris Henley KC of Mountford Chambers.

R v W.  Sexual offences.  Client found not guilty after trial of sexually assaulting his stepson over a period of years.  Careful cross-examination demonstrated to the jury that the complainant was an untruthful witness.

R v N.  Production of  Cannabis.  Vietnamese national found not guilty after trial having accepted producing cannabis at a house in Nottingham but relying on the statutory Modern Slavery defence.

Education Law

Case of B.  Future infant class size appeal.  Successfully argued that a child ought to be admitted to the parents primary school of choice despite local authority opposition.  Case arose from application of unlawful admissions criteria.

Case of L. Infant class size appeal.  Case arising from here. decision to change admissions criteria by local authority.  Pupil admitted to the school despite strong opposition from the local authority.

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