Tag Archives: trial

Dangerous Driving Acquittal

dangerous driving acquittal
Northallerton Magistrates’ Court

Nottingham crime solicitor Graham Heathcote recently had the pleasure of travelling to Northallerton Magistrates’ Court to represent a client for dangerous driving who he has represented at his two previous firms of solicitors.  The client chooses to have Graham represent him, presumably on the basis that he may well be able to work wonders with any case.  More of this below…

Dangerous Driving ended in flames?

Graham’s client faced an allegation of dangerous driving.  The allegation involved witnesses stating that he was undertaking, tailgating and attempting to manoeuvre between two moving vehicles in adjacent lanes.  The incident ended with his client’s vehicle off the road and in a field.  The vehicle had rolled onto him all but severing his arm.  The car then burst into flames.

Late Instructions

Graham’s client had such confidence in his abilities that he failed to keep four office appointments, finally attending the office 48 hours before the trial.   Graham only received the MG5, which is a summary of the allegation and the evidence, from the Crown Prosecution Service the day before the trial.  The actual witness statements were only served at 9.45a.m. on the morning of the trial. These included the accident investigation report.

All witnesses were in attendance and prepared to give evidence.  The court was in a position to hear the trial.  An offer of a plea to careless driving fell on deaf ears.

I Can’t Remember

Cross-examination of witnesses was limited as the client could not recall anything of the incident.  Although he gave evidence on his own behalf, that largely consisted of an admission of previous driving offences while asserting that the driving on this occasion didn’t sound like the way he would drive.

After being addressed on the burden and standard of proof, the law relating to dangerous driving and our client’s account the Magistrates found him not guilty of dangerous driving.  He was, however, found guilty of careless driving but kept his driving licence.

Contact Graham Heathcote

If you are denying a case and the evidence is somewhat stacked against you, you ought to telephone Graham on 0115 9599550 or email him here.

Nottingham Crown Court Acquittal

Senior Crown Court Litigator Laura Clarson recently worked with Nick Jones, a barrister from 5 St Andrew’s Hill Chambers, at Nottingham Crown Court to secure an acquittal for her client.

Serious Violent Offence at Nottingham Crown Court

Laura’s client was charged with another accused of causing grievous bodily harm with intent.  The allegation was that the complainant had been assaulted with a weapon, probably a bat, as a result of his unwanted attentions in relation to our client’s mother.

The injuries involved fractures to the complainant’s face.  Blood had been lost by the complainant.  It was the prosecution’s contention that this blood evidence could make a jury sure that Laura’s client had been one of those who took part in the attack.

A favourable outcome to the case was extremely important to her client, not least because the Sentencing Guidelines for this offence suggested that if convicted he could expect to receive a sentence that would start at 6 years in prison.

Nottingham Crown Court

The case required careful preparation.  The witness had no recollection of the incident which led to his injuries.  They were of such severity, however, that he must have been subject to a serious assault.  Although Laura’s client was now asserting that he had not taken part in the assault, he had not told the truth to the police during the early stages of the investigation.

Expert Evidence

The Crown maintained that it’s expert analysis of the blood evidence was decisive and claimed that if would offer the jury no alternative but to conclude that Laura’s client had been involved.

As soon as the blood evidence was disclosed, Laura instructed a respected expert, Gillian Leak of Principal Forensic Service to provide a report on behalf of her client.

Despite early service of these conclusions and the seniority and experience of our expert the Crown proved intransigent in relation to the case.  There was resistance to an early conference between experts to find points of common ground.  It transpired during the course of these negotiations that the Crown expert had not been given the entirety of the Crown case in order to further review his findings.

Although it was clear to Laura in March 2016 that the Crown’s view of the blood evidence would be unsustainable at trial, the prosecution continued nonetheless.  Problems in the complainant’s case were highlighted during cross-examination.  Most importantly, the Crown expert conceded many points in our client’s favour during questioning.

Nottingham Crown CourtBelatedly, the Crown saw reason dropped the case against Laura’s client half way through the trial at Nottingham Crown Court and he was found not guilty.  This was six months after Laura had served the evidence and made representations about the wisdom of the prosecution.

Contact Us

Crown Court cases are often complicated and steps will need to be taken to challenge what at first glance appears to be conclusive evidence.  Please contact Laura if you have a case before Nottingham Crown Court on 0115 9599550 or email her here.  Alternatively, find your closest office here.

Historic Sex Allegation Trial

Senior Crown Court litigator Lisa Sawyer recently worked with counsel Michael Levy from  2 Bedford Row  Chambers to successfully defend a client against an historic sex allegation.

Defending an historic sex allegation

historic sex allegation

The offence was said to have taken place 10 years ago.  The incident wasn’t reported to the police until 2015. Such delays make the preparation of such cases more difficult. Memories are likely to fade and helpful witnesses will be difficult to locate.

The client maintained that any sexual activity was consensual.  He had had recent contact with the complainant on social media which the prosecution claimed indicated that he accepted committing the offences.

Lisa’s client knew that he faced very serious offences.  He was aware that a conviction would not only have an effect on him, but also his family and friends.

The Preparation

historic sexual allegation criminal defenceAlthough the case was in Nottingham, our client lived in Glasgow and he wished representation from counsel based in London.  He also had some learning difficulties and was dyslexic.  The geographical and personal complications meant that Lisa had to spend the time necessary to ensure that the client was happy with his instructions including:

  • two lengthy meetings over several hours to take the client through the papers and seek instructions
  • preparing typed instructions and giving the client the time to consider and amend them
  • attend conference with counsel and client in London
  • spend additional time explaining the trial process
  • attending the trial throughout

Lisa’s command of the case and knowledge of the client meant that she was able to reassure the client as to the preparation being undertaken on his case and assist counsel with a steer towards the relevant aspects of the case.

The Verdict

The client gave evidence well before the jury, and after four days the jury returned a not guilty verdict, to the relief of the client.

Historic sex allegation solicitor
Nottingham Crown Court

The preparation and outcome of this case demonstrates that advice and preparation from an experienced litigator on combination with the right advocate can ensure the best outcome for clients.

Contact a Crown Court defence specialist
Senior Crown Court Litigator Lisa Sawyer

Some further information about how we will prepare to defend your case here.  Although our offices are based in the East Midlands we will prepare nationwide representation.  You can find your nearest office here.

If you face an historic sex allegation or any other matter to be dealt with before the Crown Court then please contact Lisa on 0115 9599550.  Alternatively you can use the contact form below.


Domestic Violence Trial in Mansfield

Domestic violence cases are frequently before the court for trial.  Domestic violence is defined as any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional


In many cases a client may have unrealistic expectations as to whether a witness, who he or she might still be in a relationship with, will attend court to give evidence against them.

Witnesses will often respond to a Crown request for their attendance, and of course ultimately the prosecution can ask that the witness be forced to attend.  Over the years the prosecution have resorted to the latter course of action more and more frequently, particularly in Crown Court cases. In some cases the evidence may permit the prosecution to proceed without the complainant.

If a client is sentenced for such an allegation, the court will take into account the seriousness of the assault, the stage at which admissions (if any are made), the wishes of the complainant (although these are not decisive) and the client’s attitude to the offence.

Particular sentencing considerations are set out here.

As a result, if a client is to embark upon a trial it is very important to them that they win.  In a recent case dealt with by Mansfield Solicitor Tim Haines his client faced an allegation of assault.  During an argument with his partner in the home it was said that he had pushed and shoved his partner, and taken hold of her.  The allegation was aggravated by the fact that his young child was said to have been present.

Tim’s client had always maintained that the incident had not happened and it had been fabricated by the complainant to support orders being sought in the family court.  The challenging of evidence in those terms may often be difficult, but in this case our client was helped by the fact that he was of previous good character.

This was important as it would be potential evidence that Tim’s client was less likely to have committed the offence and more likely to be telling the truth about what happened.  Rather than simply rely on this Tim chose to call two character witnesses to give evidence to the court about his client’s character, usual demeanour and in particular how he conducted himself in his relationship.

The District Judge found this a difficult case as both the alleged victim and Tim’s client were credible witnesses.  Applying the burden and standard of proof, and putting weight on our client’s good character, the Judge could not be sure that he had committed the offence and the client was found not guilty.

Tactical considerations that can only come from an experienced trial advocate such as Tim can often be key when deciding how to present a case before the courts.  This is true whether the case is a trial or a sentencing hearing.  You can be sure that Tim will be alive to all of the possible outcomes of the various strategies that can be adopted and give you the best advice in your particular case, as he did in this one.

Should you wish to discuss a case involving domestic violence with Tim then please make an appointment to see him at our Mansfield office by telephoning 01623 675816 or email him here.

Mansfield Domestic Violence Trial

Not Guilty Verdict for Client

Senior Crown Court Litigator Laura Clarson prepared a case for a not guilty verdict.  Her client faced two allegations of dwelling house burglary, aggravated vehicle taking and simple taking of a vehicle without the owners consent.  If found guilty he would have received at least 3 years in prison.

Taken at face value, the evidence would appear extremely strong.  The client had been arrested having been traced to where he was hiding behind a car by a police dog.

The police had recovered two watches stolen from the burglary.  This had been committed less than an hour before the client’s arrest.  They were found next to a gate that Laura’s client had jumped over during the pursuit

Keys from a vehicle taken was found under the car our client was hiding behind. When searched he was also in possession of a mask and gloves.

The defence of the case was made that much more difficult by the fact that our client had a substantial record of previous convictions for burglary offence and vehicle taking.

Laura’s client was passionate in his denials of the allegation.  He maintained that a second person was responsible for the offending rather than him.  Presentation of this defence was potentially hampered by the fact that he failed to give this explanation at the police station when represented by another firm of solicitors.

Her preparation, on her client’s instructions, began to show how the prosecution case was perhaps not as strong as it first looked and a not guilty verdict could be secured.

The following points were usefully made:

  • A second male was present although police officers could not agree about that fact
  • The dog handler could have traced the second male had pursuing officers mentioned him
  • Although there were eye witnesses, identification parades did not take place as Laura’ client did not match the descriptions
  • Defence established that a second male had had these allegations ‘taken into considertation’ when sentenced earlier



Although emotional about what he said were the lies of the police as to what had happened on that day, Laura’s client gave clear and compelling evidence as to his lack of involvement.  His account was tested by the prosecutor in robust cross examination but our client did not waver.

After a little over five hours the jury returned with a not guilty verdict.  Laura’s client was understandably relieved, and pleased that Laura, his barrister and the jury gave his account the weight that it deserved.

Our client was represented by counsel Dan Bishop from 7 Bedford Row who gave clear and helpful tactical advice on how to best present the case to the jury.  Decisions were made has to how best to cross-examine the police officers (gently or robustly) and whether to call as a witness the person who had admitted the offences upon sentence.  Ultimately, the right decisions were made.

This case demonstrates the benefits of instructing a firm with a specialist Crown Court department.  Laura spends all of her working day preparing the most serious cases that come before the court.  This may be for trials or sentence, but her experience means that she will give each case the attention to detail that it needs.

She will also be able to advise you as to the availability of legal aid.  Information can be found here and here.

If you have a case that you wish to discuss with Laura please contact her at our Nottingham office by telephone 0115 9599550 or by email here.

Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court
Trial Success at Nottingham Crown Court