Tag Archives: litigator

What is a hung jury? What happens next?

Recently, the high profile prosecution of ex-police officer David Duckenfield relating to the Hillsborough tragedy ended without reaching a conclusion. A number of papers reported that there was a hung jury.  So, what does that mean?

In an ideal world, a jury will reach a clear conclusion by either convicting or acquitting the defendant.

hung juryWhere a case retains the original 12 jurors at least 10 must agree on the verdict.  If the numbers fall short, for example, with 8 wanting to acquit and 4 wanting to convict, that will not be an acceptable verdict.

If the jury indicates that they will not be able to reach a verdict in accordance with the law then then that jury will need to be discharged.

In legal terms, this is often referred to as a hung jury.

What happens if there is a hung jury?

hung juryThe prosecution can apply to have the defendant tried again.  This will be the outcome in most cases.

The decision is one for the trial Judge who will consider whether or not it is in the interests of justice for a retrial to take place.

Typically, the court considers questions which include (but are not limited to) whether:

  • the alleged offence is sufficiently serious to justify a retrial
  • if re-convicted, the appellant would be likely to serve a significant period or further period in custody
  • the appellant’s age and health
  • the wishes of the victim of the alleged offence.

If prosecutorial misconduct is alleged then other factors will come into play, analogous with whether it is an abuse of process to allow a retrial.

In most cases, the defence will not be able to properly resist the application.  We would, however, always carefully consider all relevant factors and object if able to.

What happens if a second jury still cannot reach a verdict?

The usual practice in this scenario is for the prosecution to offer no evidence, although there are rare circumstances where a further retrial could take place.

Contact an expert in Crown Court representation

We are specialists in Crown Court litigation and advocacy.  You can read about how we prepare for such serious cases here.

Legal aid is likely to be available for defending a Crown Court case.

Here are some of the cases that we have dealt with recently:

Successful defence of a serious robbery in the home.

Successful challenge of expert evidence in drugs case.

Abuse of process in paedophile hunter case.

We have offices across the East Midlands.  From those we provide nationwide advice and representation.

You can find your nearest office here.

hung jury
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively you can use the contact form below:


Litigator Graduated Fee Scheme – Government lose another Judicial Review

Today it was announced that the Government had suffered another setback in its relentless attack on publicly funded legal representation.  Since being forced to withdraw its controversial two-tier plan for criminal work it has been forced to re-instate certain prison law cases into the scope of legal aid and had to abandon a scheme to tender for Housing Duty Solicitor schemes on the basis of both quality and price.

The Government had reduced payments by an unsustainable 37% argued The Law Society, putting at risk the viability of firms providing advice and assistance under the legal aid scheme.  This would have a knock on effect for potential clients around the country as local solicitors’ practices had to close.

It is hope that this latest decision will force the Ministry of Justice to the negotiating table to devise a scheme that sees economically viable rates of pay in the most serious and complex of cases.

LGFS Judicial review

Bindmans Press Release

Bindmans, the solicitors instructed by The Law Society in judicial review issued the following press release on 3 August 2018:

“Today, a Divisional Court comprising Lord Justice Leggatt And Mrs Justice Carr DBE upheld a judicial review challenge brought by the Law Society to a decision made by the Lord Chancellor to introduce a 40% cut to the maximum number of pages of prosecution evidence (‘PPE’) that count for payment of criminal defence solicitors. The regulations introducing the cut will be quashed (para 143 of the judgment).

In practical terms, the cut has meant a huge amount of work on the most complex Crown Court cases has been unremunerated since December. Payments to criminal defence solicitors have been up to 37% lower, but the Legal Aid Agency has expected precisely the same amount of work to be done as before. This was the first occasion in which a cut of this kind had been made to Criminal Legal Aid.

The Divisional Court’s judgment is highly critical of the way the cut decision was made. Discussions with the Law Society on reform of the LGFS had been in train (para 23), but were “terminated”  shortly before Ministry of Justice officials announced proposals to make the cut were announced in 2017. However, consultees were not told about or shown the analysis of costs trends officials had prepared for the Lord Chancellor to answer the “crucial question” of whether a cost judge’s decision had caused a substantial increase in LGFS costs and undermined the policy intention of the scheme (para 93). The Court observes (para 86) “no reason – let alone a good reason – has been given for not disclosing during the consultation process the LAA analysis and its results…”, concluding (para  97): “the failure to disclose this information was a fundamental flaw in the consultation process which made it so unfair as to be unlawful.”

An impact assessment accompanying the consultation paper had compounded the unfairness by giving a“misleading” impression of the basis for the decision (para 94):

“It should also go without saying that consultees are entitled to expect that consultation documents will not be positively misleading.  When a draft Impact Assessment is published which purports to set out the “evidence base” for the proposal, including an analysis of costs and benefits and a statement of key assumptions and risks, the reader would understand that any analysis relied on to estimate the increase in expenditure which it was the policy objective to reverse was described in the Impact Assessment.  The fact that the responsible Minister has certified that the Impact Assessment “represents a fair and reasonable view of the expected costs, benefits and impact of the policy” would further reinforce that understanding.”

As to the Lord Chancellor’s arguments that consultees ought to have deduced there was an analysis and sought it, the Court comments (para 93):

“It is difficult to express in language of appropriate moderation why we consider these arguments without merit.  The first point, which should not need to be made but evidently does, is that consultees are entitled to expect that a government ministry undertaking a consultation exercise will conduct it in a way which is open and transparent.”

The analysis was disclosed for the first time during the course of the litigation and then analysed by the Law Society’s expert witness, Professor Abigail Adams, who identified fundamental errors. The Court went on to hold that these errors meant it had been irrational for the Lord Chancellor to rely on it, It was (para 122):

“we see no escape from the conclusion that the LAA analysis was vitiated by methodological flaws and that no reasonable decision-maker could reasonably have treated the figure of £33m [of increased cost] produced by that analysis as an estimate of increased expenditure attributable to the Napper decision on which reliance could reasonably be placed.”

The Law Society was represented by John Halford, Farhana Patel, Theo Middleton and Patrick Ormerod of Bindmans LLP and barristers Dinah Rose QC and Jason Pobjoy of Blackstone Chambers.

John Halford said today:

“Legal Aid was established, and should function as, a basic, non-negotiable safeguard of fair process and individual liberty in criminal cases. But rather than cherishing this vital part of the British legal system, successive ministers have undermined it with over a decade of cuts based on carelessly made decisions like this one. Had the Law Society not stepped up to defend criminal defence solicitors, the fundamental flaws in the analysis on which this decision was based would never have come to light and their irrationality would have escaped proper scrutiny.””

The full judgement of the case can be found here:

Judgement in The Law Society v The Lord Chancellor

Contact one of our criminal law specialists

We provide advice and representation under the legal aid scheme for cases heard before the Crown Court.  Some information about this legal aid scheme can be found here.

You can find your nearest office here.

VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Not guilty verdict after Paedophile hunters fail to produce evidence

Chesterfield Crown Court litigator Ruth Campbell and Nottingham Solicitor Advocate Andrew Wesley were recently instructed in another case involving a prosecution dependent on evidence provided by paedophile hunters.  An outline of a previous case that failed due to problems with such evidence can be found here.

There client had an unusual defence to put forward.  He had logged into an adult chatroom.  He believed that any conversations he had online, and later on other social media threads, was with a person pretending to be a child for the purposes of a sexual fantasy.

His instructions were that a full record of each conversation would support his account.  As a result, immediately following his not guilty plea, specific enquiries were made of the prosecution.

Evidence required from paedophile hunters’ phones

In order to establish the evidence that could lead to our client’s acquittal the following information was requested:

  •  full threads of the messaging from the adult site taken from the paedophile hunters’ phones
  • similar threads from other messaging apps used to communicate, again from their phones
  • the profiles that the hunters were using on the adult site
  • our client’s profile

It appears often the case that the police are content to rely upon screenshots given to them by the paedophile hunters.  As a result, paedophile hunters not guiltythe prosecution is dependent upon evidence that may be incomplete.  It a client intends to advance a defence it is vital that these enquiries are made immediately.

The witnesses also maintained that our client had made a confession that had been filmed and streamed.  The footage located online was only partial and did not contain a confession.  That material was also sought.

The prosecution asked for the case to be brought into the list several months before the trial date.  This was because, as a result of our enquiries, they had look at the case and intended to offer no evidence.  This was because the prosecution had been unable to secure the evidence that we had requested and as a result could not check its veracity or accuracy.

paedophile hunters chesterfield solicitors not guiltyThe evidence had not been preserved by the witnesses themselves, and was no longer available.  A software corruption had also occurred which mean that the phones could not be properly interrogated now.  Finally, there was no footage said to contain a confession to the offence.

Paedophile hunters ‘need to be aware of the rules’

The Judge hearing the case observed that in terms of case numbers, prosecutions dependent upon evidence from paedophile hunters paedophile hunters legal representationwas a ‘growth area’.  Although a large proportion of these cases result in a guilty plea, particularly where charges are backed up with a video of a meeting.

He went on, however, to express a real concern about the nature of the ‘investigators’, accepting that this was in many cases a ‘loose’ use of the term.  The Judge expressed concerns that they operated outside any statutory scheme of evidence preservation and disclosure.  If they were to continue in such cases, his view was that they ought to be made aware of the rules.  If they do not consider and comply with the rules, they won’t be a help and their conduct will lead to more cases with difficulties such as this one.

Contact a Crown Court litigation specialist

chesterfield crown court litigator Ruth Campbell
Chesterfield Cown Court litigator Ruth Campbell

It may be that you face potential proceedings based on evidence provided by paedophile hunters, or another serious allegation.  If so, you will wish to instruct a Crown Court litigation and advocacy team that will takes steps at an early stage of proceedings to advance your case where necessary.

Ruth is based at our new Chesterfield office.  You can find the contact details here.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.  If one of our other offices is closer to you then please contact the one most convenient to you for an appointment.


Detailed cross examination secures not guilty verdicts at Nottingham Crown Court

Senior Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier was recently instructed in the case of a 65 year old defendant charged with serious sexual offences involving his foster or adopted daughters.  The case involved careful and detailed cross examination.

The allegations were almost exclusively historic sexual offences, with the complainants giving very similar accounts of offending.  All of the offences were denied.

expert cross examination
Vanessa Marshall QC

Sarah had chosen to instruct experienced counsel Vanessa Marshall from 7 Bedford Row Chambers, known for her eye to detail and exhaustive analysis and preparation of such cases.  During the currency of this case Ms Marshall discovered that she had been successful in her application to be Queen’s Counsel.

Expert cross examination of four complainants

Here, all four complainants had the benefit of special measures permitting them to give evidence behind screens.  Cross examination was expertly conducted in relation to a great deal of material including social care records.  A substantial amount of material was not disclosed until the trial had started.

expert cross examination sexual abuse caseCounsel insisted on sufficient time to be able to consider this additional material and plan her expert cross examination accordingly.  One of the witnesses was extremely volatile under questioning.

The detailed preparation meant that we were able to show that the witnesses had told some lies that were relevant to the case.  For example, one of the complainants had no choice but to accept that she had previously made false allegations about another carer.  The defence identified, within the unused material, reasons why further false allegations might have been made.

Counsel had to treat the witnesses with care.  It was clear that whatever the reality of the allegations they were now making, they had had a difficult early life.

Our client was of good character.  As a result, character evidence was gathered.  A number of witnesses attended court to speak as to his character in the trial.

Although the the trial lasted for five weeks, the defence was compelling.  As a result, our client was found not guilty of all charges with the jury deliberating for just under three hours.

Our client was, of course, particularly pleased and relieved.

Contact a Crown Court litigation specialist

cross examination historic sexual abuse
Crown Court litigator Sarah Lees Collier

If you face proceedings before the Crown Court, whether you intend to plead guilty or fight your case at trial, you will want to instruct an expert Crown Court litigator.

You can contact your nearest office here.  To instruct Sarah Lees-Collier she can contacted on 0115 9599550 or using the contact form below.


Jury Trial – law, procedure and how a decision is reached

Jury Trial – How Your Fate is Decided

A lot is said in the country about the benefits of a jury trial as opposed to trial before the Magistrates’ Court.  It is argued that leaving a decision as to guilt or innocence in the hands of twelve people chosen at random is the fairest way to securing justice.  How does a jury decide your fate?

There is a lot that we do not know about a jury trial

The process of how a jury reaches its decision is generally unknown jury trialhowever.  Laws prevent us from examining real jury decisions and questioning jurors on their findings.

Although there have been lots of academic studies, in reality these shed very little light on the process of the decision making.

We do know the legal process that guides them in their decision making.   Despite the lack of ‘hard proof’ as to the effectiveness of a jury trial, most lawyers actively support trial by jury.

The internet age

The power of Google and social network services such as Facebook or Twitter can present challenges.  Recent publicity has highlighted cases in which jurors have sought information about a case or a defendant from these sources.

jury trial facebook googleThere is a good reason why certain information is withheld from a jury.  This might include, for example, previous convictions of a defendant.  Going behind explicit instructions not to discuss evidence with anyone other than a fellow juror when the jury is assembled, or seeking information from external sources, undermines the integrity of a jury trial.

For this reason, jurors will be given clear warnings throughout the trial process.  The breaking of the rules can lead to a prison sentence for a juror.

A trial starts with twelve jurors

A jury trial will  always start with twelve jurors.   The trial can’t start with fewer jurors.

There are many reasons, however, leading to a trial not always finishing with twelve. Jurors may become sick and be unable to return.  In some rare cases they may be removed from a jury due to some misconduct during the trial. As long as the number of jurors does not fall below nine then a lawful verdict can be reached.

The unanimous verdict

jury trialAt all times, the Judge presiding over the trial will be seeking a unanimous verdict from the jury.  This is a verdict upon which all of the jurors are agreed, whether that is guilty or not guilty.

In the early stages of jury deliberation a Judge is prevented by law from accepting a majority verdict.  There will, however, be a time when a majority decision is permissible. The timing of when that will be will depend very much on the facts of the particular case.

When a majority verdict becomes permissible the jury will be brought back into court by the judge and advised accordingly. Even at that stage, however, the jurors will be asked to continue to try and arrive at a unanimous verdict if that is possible. If this is not possible, then a majority verdict will be acceptable.


In some cases it will become apparent to the Judge that the jury cannot reach a verdict, even a majority one. The Judge will often find this out because the jury will write a note explaining the situation. The contents of that note will usually not be shared with the advocates.  This is because it will often  ‘contain numbers’, meaning how many jurors are voting one way or the other. Such notes remain confidential in all jury trials.

When a deadlock occurs the judge will provide them with a ‘give and take’ direction.  This calls upon all of the  jurors to use their collective wisdom to reach a decision.

The Decision reached

If the jury reaches a unanimous verdict then the issue is settled.  If not, and the time is appropriate for a majority verdict, a majority may be acceptable.

Whether a majority verdict is acceptable depends on the balance of votes.  This will in turn depend on how many jurors remain deciding the trial.

The combinations are:

  • Where there are 12 jurors: 11 – 1 or 10 – 2
  • If there are 11 jurors: 10 -1
  • When there are 10 jurors: 9 – 1

jury trialWhere the jury falls to nine jurors, only a unanimous verdict will be acceptable.

If the verdict is not guilty, the defendant is free to leave court assuming that there are no other matters remaining to be dealt with. When the verdict is guilty, the judge will move on to consider sentencing the defendant.

Back to deadlock?

In the cases where, despite further deliberation, it becomes clear that the jury is deadlocked then the jury will be discharged.  The trial will be over.

In these circumstances, the prosecution may either proceed with a new trial or abandon the trial.  This may be because the trial has exposed weaknesses in the prosecution evidence.

How we can assist in your case

jury trialWe know that the trial process can be difficult,  both for our clients and their families. We will work hard at all stages of that process to explain what stage has been reached, what is going on and what will happen next.

It is your case and you ought not to be reduced to a mere bystander as the legal process occurs around you.

Because we are experienced trial lawyers, we do not lose sight of the person behind the proceedings.

Contact an expert lawyer for a jury trial

We offer Crown Court advocacy and litigation expertise from all of our six offices across the East Midlands.  While we are most regularly preparing cases to be heard before Nottingham and Derby Crown Courts we provide nationwide coverage.

You can find your nearest office here.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.







Section 18 or 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861?

offences against the person act 1861
Crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

Senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier recently represented a client appearing for Crown Court trial at Leicester Crown Court.  He faced an extremely serious charge of wounding with intent, contrary to section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

Negotiation resolved the case to our client’s satisfaction.

Section 18 Offences Against the Person Act 1861

The allegation was made more serious by a number of factors.  Our client had not acted alone but with another to assault the victim.  Although fists were used to begin with, the victim was then assaulted with a knife.  Finally, the offence took place in a student halls of residence, so the victim had been assaulted in their own home.

Some of the incident had been captured on CCTV.

The complainant received two black eyes, a cut above his eye that required stitches, a broken nose and fractured cheek bone.

Sarah’s client was of good character with no convictions or even cautions recorded against him.  He was a student himself.

Sentencing Guidelines

section 20 offences against the person act 1861Following conviction after trial the sentencing guidelines would have suggested that a starting point of six years in prison, within a range of five to nine years.  Arguably this could have been categorised as a ‘sustained assault’ which would have made the sentence even longer.

An alternate plea to a lesser charge

On the day of trial our client was represented by barrister Nick Bechey from Great James Street chambers.  We received instructions to offer a plea to the lesser charge under section 20 Offences Against the Person Act 1861.  This offer of plea was accepted by the prosecution.

As a result, the judge had a greater flexibility on sentence and instead of a lengthy prison sentence our client received a suspended sentence with community elements.  He was very pleased and relieved with the outcome.

Instruct an expert crown court litigator

If you face proceedings before the Crown Court then you will want to know that you are instructing a specialist crown court defence lawyer to fight your case.  You can contact Sarah on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively, we have expert lawyers to help with your Crown Court case at all of our offices.  Find your nearest office here.

VHS Fletchers offices for Crown Court representation across the East Midlands

You can also use the contact form below.



Crown Court trial avoided – conditional discharge instead

crown court trial drug offences
Crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

Senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier instructed counsel Harry Hewitt from 5 St Andrews Hill Chambers in a case listed for Crown Court trial at Nottingham Crown Court.  Sarah’s client faced allegations of

  • possession of criminal property
  • abstracting electricity
  • production of cannabis, and
  • supply of cannabis.


The case for the prosecution

The cannabis had been found by police at his home address and was a relatively large amount – 8 ounces or 230 grams in what the police said were single ounce deals.  The police also found large plastic  containers that had traces of cannabis inside along with £2000 cash.  The electricity meter at the address had been bypassed.

Our client also owned a second address.  When this was searched by the police approximately 200 cannabis plants were found growing at the address.  The meter had been bypassed.  The police said that the manner of the bypass was the same as at the other address.  Two others were arrested at this address.

Finally, when our client’s phone was examined by the police there were a large number of photographs of cannabis plants being grown.

Our client’s defence at Crown Court Trial

Our client accepted possession of the cannabis and the abstraction of electricity at his home address.  He denied responsibility for any of the other offences and maintained the following:


  • the cannabis seized from his home address was his and was for personal use
  • he used about four to six ounces of cannabis per week as self-medication for pain relief
  • it was boiled it in a bain-marie and drank it with milk
  • this had been given to the police when they came to his home, along with the plastic tubs which he had used to store the cannabis in
  • the £2,000 cash was legitimate cash from his businesses from which he earned at least £200 000 per year.
  • he denied knowing that cannabis was being grown at his second address
  • he denied knowledge of the photos on his phone

crown court trial drug offencesIn order to prepare the case for trial, Sarah instructed expert witnesses Emmersons Associates to inspect the electricity meters to look for similarities.  The police has mislaid one of the meters so  the impact of any examination was limited.

Medical evidence was obtained outlining the various ailments that our client suffered from and which cannabis was said to alleviate.

Pleas accepted and conditional discharge followed

Once the case was fully prepared and the helpful evidence served on the prosecution, we reminded the prosecution that our client was offering pleas to simple possession of cannabis and abstracting electricity.  This time the pleas were accepted.

Our client was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge for both offences.

Confiscation proceedings avoided

The fact that we put the prosecution in a position where the offered pleas were accepted meant that our client avoided an almost inevitable prison sentence and confiscation proceedings.  Had be been convicted of any of the other offences then the prosecution would have examined his finances for the 6 years prior to the offence in order to try and confiscate assets that could not easily be explained.

Instruct an expert for your Crown Court trial

If you wish to instruct Sarah you can contact her on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively, we have specialist Crown Court trial lawyers at each of our offices across the East Midlands.  Find you nearest office here.

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.




Plea to drug offences results in suspended sentence

drug offences solcitor advocate legal representation
Derby criminal solicitor advocate William Bennett

Derby solicitor advocate William Bennett and senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier worked together to secure a favourable sentence for their client before Nottingham Crown Court who faced serious drug offences.

Negotiation secured a favourable basis of plea and sentence.

Crown court trial for serious drug offences

Our client faced trial with four others for drug offences.  She was charged with conspiracy to supply cannabis.  A large amount of cannabis had been found in three houses and the boot of a car.  All defendants were connected by a family relationship.

drug offences cannabis growSpecifically, our client was said to have helped with the growing of the cannabis as well as the onward supply.  Although our client accepted growing cannabis she maintained that this was for her own use.  It was medicinal as she suffered from severe arthritis.  Sarah obtained a medical report from her doctor to back up this assertion.

Unfortunately, the prosecution was not prepared to accept what she had said.  They  maintained that she had a key role in what was a substantial conspiracy.  The case was listed for a ten day trial for all defendants including our client.

On the morning of trial there was movement on behalf of both our client and the prosecution.  She was prepared to accept involvement on the basis that her house had been used to grow the cannabis.  her route into cannabis use and this offending remained the same – her illness.

As a result of these negotiations the court was able to sentence our client far more leniently that would otherwise have been the case.  Despite her late plea, William persuaded the judge to impose a sentence of only four months but suspend it.  As a result, as long as our client complies with the community element of the order and does not commit further offences then she will not have to serve the sentence.

Basis of plea and sentencing guidelines

drug offences crown representation
Crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

The basis upon which our clients are sentenced will always be very important.  This is particularly true in cases involving drug supply as the sentencing guidelines can be particularly unforgiving.

For example, whether you have a significant or leading role in a relatively small scale operation supplying cannabis can make a difference of three years to the starting point for sentence.

In this particular case, because of the guidelines, the starting point for the judge in considering sentence would have been twelve months.  Bearing in mind the lateness of the plea, William was able to persuade the judge to reduce the sentence dramatically to the sentence finally imposed.

Contact our specialist crown court team

We have Crown Court specialists based at all of our offices across the East Midlands.  Find your nearest office here.  We will provide you with the most cost effective way to fund your Crown Court representation, whether that is privately or through legal aid.

drug offences legal representation
VHS Fletchers offices across the East Midlands

Alternatively, you can contact us using the form below.

Our Crown Court representation secures not guilty verdict

Senior Crown Court litigator Caine Ward and in-house counsel Steve Gosnell provided crown court representation to a client crown court representation sexual offencecharged with a serious sexual offence.

The offending was said to have occurred over a period of two days and the alleged victim was known to  Caine’s client.  Originally there were two allegations made by the same complainant.  He was in his forties and of previous good character.

Free and independent police station advice

crown court representation nottingham sexual offencesCaine’s client took the opportunity to have free and independent legal advice in the police station.  He answered all questions put to him.  He maintained that they were in a relationship and any contact was consensual.

Further, he went on the state that there would be material on both his and her phone that would support his account.  In particular, there would be messaging between her and her friends that would corroborate what he said.

Our client was released on police bail.  He was told that this was to permit the interrogation of the mobile phones in the case.  He remained on police bail for seven months.

Following investigation, the police and prosecution made a bizarre decision not to charge the most serious offence, but simply proceed with one of the allegations.  Bearing in mind both allegations hinged on the credibility of the same complainant this was hard to understand.

Prosecution pressured to review the case

When the case was first before the court statements were served.  It became clear why the prosecution were not proceeding with one of the charges as the complainant had changed her account in a significant way.  It remained hard to see why the prosecution were continuing with the second allegation in the circumstances.

Of greater concern was that requests for the phone evidence that the police had had seven months to secure went unheeded.  Caine drafted a defence statement.  This demonstrated the importance of the phone evidence.  He repeated the request when the defence statement was served.

Again, the prosecution delayed in providing the information.  Eventually, it was confirmed that the complainant had refused to hand over her mobile phone to the police so downloads could not be obtained.

The matter was listed for two pre-trial reviews so that pressure could be placed on the prosecution to review the case.  On both occasions, different Judges raised concerns about the wisdom of proceeding with the case.  In having the case listed we were able to keep up pressure on the prosecution to drop the prosecution.

Missing phone evidence

crown court representation solicitor nottinghamThe prosecution finally confirmed that not only had the complainant’s phone not been handed to the police but that she had disposed of it and now had a new one.  As a result, all of the evidence had been lost.  The complainant maintained that she had never been asked for her phone.  This was at odds with unused material that Caine had seen.

In the end the prosecution were compelled to review the case one further time and decided to offer no evidence in the week before the trial.  A not guilty verdict was entered. This was clearly the right decision and removed any risk that our client would be convicted before a jury.

All of this was achieved with our client having the benefit of Crown Court criminal legal aid.

Instruct experts in Crown Court representation

crown court representation nottingham
Senior Crown Court litigator Caine Ward

We have an experienced team of crown court litigators and in-house advocates to provide you with expert crown court representation.  An important part of the preparation of your case will be to see whether the prosecution can be put in a position where it has to drop your case before trial.

If you wish to instruct Caine in a case then please telephone him on 0115 9599550 or use the contact form below.


Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison – Suspended Sentence

conveying prohibited articles into prison suspended sentence
Senior crown court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

Senior Crown Court litigator Sarah Lees-Collier recently represented a client charged with conveying prohibited articles into prison.  In this case it was cannabis and mamba, List A and List C items.

Sarah’s client was in a difficult position because the sentence for such offences is almost inevitably a prison sentence.   In this case his position was worse as he had been convicted before of a similar offence.  In that case he had received a six month prison sentence.  As a result, if convicted , prison would seem inevitable.

Detained with Cannabis and Mamba

Sarah’s client had attempted to enter Nottingham Prison with two wraps of what he thought was mamba in his underwear. He was stopped because a  sniffer dog indicated that he ought to be searched.  When the items were discovered he immediately said he believed it was mamba.  When it was tested only one wrap was found to contain mamba.   The other contained cannabis although the wraps looked very similar in appearance.

The difference was potentially important in terms of sentence.  Cannabis was a List A article, whereas Mamba was not.  The maximum sentence was 10 years in prison, whereas the penalty for a List C article was a fine.

The prosecution was persuaded that  Sarah’s client could be sentenced on the basis that he believed that he was bringing a List C article into the prison.  Despite his record the court was persuaded to adjourn the case for a pre-sentence report.

At our client’s request, we instructed counsel Ben Isaacs of 7 Bedford Row Chambers.  Following extensive mitigation  the Judge was persuaded that the inevitable prison sentence could be suspended.  He received an 8 month prison sentence suspended for 18 months with community elements because of these arguments.

The Current Law on Conveying Prohibited Articles into Prison

Once an individual had knowingly conveyed a package containing any prohibited article into prison he was criminally liable for the contents.   As a result, a person will bear the risk of a significant sentence even when they thought that they were bringing in a less serious, List C item.

Their belief is likely to be important mitigation, but cannot be a defence.

Contact Crown Court Litigator Sarah Lees-Collier

If you face an allegation of conveying prohibited articles into prison or any other criminal offence then please contact Sarah.  She can be reached at our Nottingham office on 0115 9599550 or alternatively you can contact her using the form below.