Tag Archives: Nottingham

Good Character on Trial – Not Guilty Verdict

good character trial nottingham crime solicitor
Nottingham criminal defence solicitor Graham Heatchcote

Nottingham crime solicitor Graham Heathcote recently dealt with a trial arising out of a near accident involving a van for a client of good character.

It may have been surprising that two people of good character moving towards retirement should end up having to give evidence to a court about such a matter, but sometimes these things can allegedly get out of hand.

The complainant in the case maintained that when he had parked his van Graham’s client had approached him, claiming he had nearly been hit by the van.  He was said to have used abusive behaviour.  It was then alleged that Graham’s client had punched the complainant hard, causing his wife to step in and separate the two of them.

Although the complainant only alleged a single punch, his wife maintained that there had been not one but eight punches.

Free legal advice in police interview

Graham’s client had taken advantage of the free legal aid available to him to ensure advice and representation during interview.  This was available even though he was not under arrest.

He answered questions in interview, claiming that he had nearly been knocked down by the van.  Although words were exchanged no punched were thrown.

good character trial criminal defence lawyer
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

All of the witnesses attended trial.  Both the complainant and his wife give evidence.  Their accounts were significantly different however, and these discrepancies were highlighted by Graham’s expert cross-examination.

In evidence Graham’s client repeated the account he gave in interview.  He maintained that while in the services he had received an injury that even years later meant that he was unable to deliver a blow with any force.

Not Guilty – Client keeps good character

Having heard all of the evidence and Graham’s submissions the Magistrates’ found his client not guilty.  As a result he kept his good character.  Although he was not entitled to legal aid for representation, Graham was able to ask for the return of a significant portion of his agreed affordable fixed-fee costs by way of a Defendant’s Costs Order.

Contact a Nottingham criminal solicitor

Although the facts of the case are perhaps not overly remarkable, the way the trial proceeded and the fact of the not guilty verdict demonstrates the value of solid expert representation by an experienced criminal defence lawyer where reputation is on the line.

It also shows the benefits of securing the services of a solicitor who will represent you for an affordable fee or criminal legal aid to ensure that you have representation to ensure you secure the best possible outcome in court.

If you are being investigated by the police or face court proceedings then Nottingham criminal defence lawyer Graham Heathcote can be contacted on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Local Criminal Legal Aid Advice

VHS Fletchers Nottingham

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.

criminal legal aid Newark
VHS Fletchers Newark
derby criminal legal aid
VHS Fletchers Derby office

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.

Details of the lawyers that you will meet at each office can be found here.

chesterfield criminal legal aid
VHS Fletchers Chesterfield office

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.

You can read more about the different legal aid schemes here.

We can give you further advice at your local office.

Details of our offices can be found here.

east midlands criminal legal aid

Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Disqualified Driving Trial Success

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.

Police Assault – Not Guilty Verdict

Nottingham crime solicitor Louise Wright was recently instructed in a case alleging police assault at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court. After a full day of trial her client was found not guilty after careful application of the relevant law.

Alleged Police Assault

Police were called to an alleged domestic disturbance.  Upon arrival, a female is standing outside the  address with her children.  She stated that her ex-partner was inside the address, refusing to leave.  The police officers entered and spoke with the male who they claimed refused to leave the property.

police assault nottingham criminal solicitor
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

The prosecution’s case was that our client was arrested for a breach of the peace.  He was said to have been initially compliant but upon being taken to the police car he began to resist.  This resulted in CS spray being used and her client being placed in leg restraints.

The officer sustained a cut to her hand during the incident.  As a result our client was further arrested for assaulting the officer in the execution of her duty.

Two Part Defence

The client’s defence had two parts:

  • that the officer had not arrested our client or explained why he was being taken against his will
  • that an arrest for breach of peace will only be lawful if the threat of the breach is imminent.

Louise argued that as the concept of a breach of the peace was loosely defined, the powers afforded to those who intend to stop or prevent a breach should be closely scrutinised by the courts to ensure that there has been no undue interference with respect of Article 5 rights.

The magistrates were referred to the leading authority of R v Howell [1982].  This defined what a breach of the peace was. Agitated or excited behaviour, not involving any injury, nor any verbal threat, cannot be a breach of the peace.

A more recent case of Hawkes v DPP [2006]  decided that language and an abusive aggressive manner might justify an arrest on the ground of an apprehended breach of the peace.  To be arrested for an actual breach of the peace there had to be an incident of violence. As a result, as in Louise’s case, verbal abuse and a refusal to get into the police car did not amount to such an incident.

Closing Speech

At the conclusion of the case, Louise argued before the Magistrates that there had been no breach of the peace.  As a result the officers did not have a power if arrest.  As a result, their purported arrest was unlawful and Louise’s client’s behaviour, by contrast, was both lawful and reasonable.  Additionally, there were inconsistencies in the police evidence that did not assist the prosecution’s case.

Having considered the evidence and the submissions the Magistrates found Louise’s client not guilty of the charge of police assault.  Her client felt that in all of the circumstances he had been wronged, and as a result he was extremely appreciative that Louise had undertaken the detailed analysis of the evidence and the issues that allowed the right verdict.

Contact Louise Wright

If you have a case that involves the need to challenge police evidence, such as police assault, then please contact Louise Wright on 0115 9599550 or email her here.

Nottingham Solicitor Witness Request

Nottingham solicitor Louise Wright is investigating a case on behalf of a client.  Although Tesco stores in the local area have been very helpful and gone beyond what would be expected she has reached a dead end.

As a result she has taken the initiative with a view to making a plea for information through social media.

An incident occurred in the car park of the Tesco store, Carlton, Nottingham at approximately 5.45pm on the 7th July 2016. A member of Tesco staff intervened and questioned what was happening during that incident.

That member of staff may be able to provide crucial information.
They may or may not have worked at that particular store.
If anybody has information we are keen to speak to them. If you are the staff member in question or know who she is please make contact with Louise on 01159 599550 or email us here..
Any assistance will be appreciated.
UPDATE 10 August 2016
Thank you to all of those who shared the appeal.  Louise has been  successful in locating the witness and a statement has been taken helpful to her client.
VHS Fletchers Carlton Hill Tesco

Feedback from Nottingham Clients

We have started to analyse the client feedback for the Nottingham office, and are again pleased by the positive comments about the individual lawyers and the firm generally.  Although we could not set out all of the positve comments for all of the solicitors, a few comments properly reflect the general tone of those who replied to our request for client feedback.

One client commenting about a Magistrates’ Court case handled by Nick Walsh said ‘I found VHS solicitors more helpful than others.  The solicitor I have is very good at his job.  Very satisfied with the help and information throughout my case’.

Another commented that Nick was ‘understanding, non-judgemental and invaluable in [his] compassion’.  Further clients said of him ‘used previously in a case, brilliant service both times’ and ‘you took time to listen’.

Finbarr Hennessey, a Magistrates’ Court Advocate known for making extra efforts on behalf of his clients,  is described in similar terms by a number of clients – ‘The solicitor I have is very good at his job’, ‘A1 Service thank you’ and ‘Finbarr Hennessy is an excellent solicitor and needs no improvement’.

It is all the more pleasing to note that, despite moving firms to us when Campion & Co solicitors stopped undertaking criminal work that his clients found their way to us and continue to receive the high level of service from Finbarr that they had grown used to.

Senior Crown Court Litigator Caine Ward deals with a high volume of the most serious of cases where the stakes, in terms of outcome, are particularly high.  A similar theme is revealed within the answers to our requests for client feedback – ‘You took the time to listen to us’ and ‘you listen to people and take time to understand even when people get mad’.

Caine is described as ‘Professional, courteous, informative and friendly’ and providing ‘great service, great experience and very professional and friendly’.  As a result another client stated ‘I have recommended people to you’.  The latter is perhaps the greatest compliment, that a client has been pleased with the level of service received and referred others to us.

Derek Brown deals with clients in the police station and before the Magistrates’ Court.  He is described as being ‘comfortable to talk to and very supportive under the circumstances’.  He ‘couldn’t get better’ and ‘helped me understand what was happening’.

In one particular case, Derek was unfortunately unable to provide the usual continuity of representation, but the client view was that the firm offered a ‘good legal team, it was a very good service’.

Finally, Julia Haywood has received feedback that would be unsurprising for all clients that met her.  One client said ‘I thought you were fantastic from day one.  You were very supportive to my family before and after sentence’.  Another mentioned that he was ‘treated with respect and dignity at all times’.

Further clients found Julia ‘helpful and understanding’ and a solicitor who provided ‘a professional service’.

Additional client feedback can be found here and here.

VHS Fletchers would hope that all of these comments demonstrate that we are a firm that you can trust with any matters relating to criminal defence.  If you wish to speak with one of our experienced lawyers please contact your nearest office here or contact us by email here.

VHS Fletchers Nottingham