Sexual Offences

In the last ten years, sexual offending has featured in some of the country’s highest profile cases and there have been wholesale changes to the way in which these difficult and distressing cases are conducted in court.

There is no substitute for experience when dealing with distressed complainants no matter which side one is representing. Chambers has a great reputation for offering a breadth of expertise in this particularly sensitive area of practice. This applies from relatively minor cases heard in the Magistrates and Youth courts, up to the most grave and complex allegations heard in the Crown Court.

Sexual allegations often affect people who have no previous experience of the criminal justice system. Our barristers bring a wealth of expertise to cases both prosecuting and defending, helping to navigate the proceedings to best effect. Many lay and professional clients comment upon the care and sensitivity with which their cases have been handled. 

Members of 5PB have appeared before tribunals at all levels in cases involving multiple abuse allegations with both adult and child complainants. From the Operation Yewtree prosecutions, where members both prosecuted and defended high profile individuals to the more recent cases involving historic allegations in schools and other institutional settings, members have secured favourable outcomes. Many defendants have sought the expertise of our members when being sentenced for illegal images and pornography cases.

We have members recognised by the CPS as specially qualified to prosecute rape cases. Several of our silks are sought for the most media sensitive cases. Our experienced Juniors regularly tackle cases of significant complexity, [including those featuring serial offenders?], and have a reputation for dealing with “difficult” cases. We are often asked to advise before charge.

Experience has shown that disclosure can be the key to presenting a full case no matter which side the barrister finds themselves representing. Our expertise in obtaining timely, full and proper disclosure from third parties holding relevant records, enables us to present our clients case with the maximum information.

All members of chambers undertaking this type of work are suitably trained, particularly relating to the treatment of vulnerable witnesses, including the use of intermediaries. We have vulnerable witness trainers within chambers.

Members have experience with not only child victims and defendants but also parties with a range of challenges including Down’s Syndrome, pre senile dementia, stroke induced impairment and learning difficulties. 

Members also appear in the Appellate court making or responding to challenges on behalf of those who consider themselves wrongly convicted. Assistance offered at appellate level can include: a review of previous proceedings, suggesting potential sources of fresh evidence, and drafting and presenting applications to the Court.

Cases of note

R v RK :Witness was 3 years old, this is a leading case on the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses.

R v M: Important guidance on doli incapax and bad character.

Gambaccini : Historic sexual allegations against a radio presenter, acquittal on all charges.

Harlow and Beadman:  Harlow targeted teenagers online before trying to meet them for the purposes of sexual offending. The victim, Kayleigh Haywood, meet up with Harlow and was held overnight by him and Beadman before being chased down raped and murdered when she tried to escape.

Vlasceanu: A residential landlord who together with his female partner was targeting and sexually assaulting his female lodgers under the guise of being “sexually liberated”.

Burns : Former Headmaster of an approved school accused of physical and sexual abuse of boys in his care. Allegations were 50+ years old. Case involved a significant disclosure exercise involving both historic and contemporary records including FaceBook. Acquittals secured on every count.

Smith; Ahmed: Separate prosecutions of serial sex offenders operating in different parts of London targeting drunk vulnerable women in the early hours.

Hepburn: Worcester cricketer convicted of raping a sleepy woman.

R v Lubemba and R v JP : Guidance on the procedure to be followed by the judge when deciding whether the cross-examination of a vulnerable witness was appropriate.