Introduction

Ben has been a specialist criminal practitioner since he was called to the Bar in 2009. His practice encompasses regulatory work.

Ben is instructed by various prosecuting authorities and the defence, typically in serious and complex cases. His recent and ongoing cases include murder, large and complex drug conspiracies, high-value fraud and cases involving serious sexual offences.

As well as appearing regularly in the Crown Court, he has also appeared successfully numerous times in the Court of Appeal including in reported cases, where he has been complimented for his thorough approach.

He is a Grade 4 prosecutor (the highest grade). He is on the specialist Grade 4 lists for Fraud, Serious Crime and Proceeds of Crime and he is on the Grade 3 Counter-Terrorism panel. He has also been appointed to the CPS specialist rape panel. He has several ongoing cases in which he is leading junior counsel.

Ben has been appointed to the ‘B’ list of Specialist Regulatory Advocates.

Ben has earned a reputation for a hard-working and thorough approach, but without losing sight of the importance of being personable and persuasive. He is equally at home addressing juries or judges.

After obtaining a First Class degree in Law where he achieved the highest marks in his University year, Ben completed an LLM in Criminal Justice prior to completing the Bar course. He now assists with advocacy training events and lecturing Bar students. He is a member of St Philips’ pupillage committee and is the editor of the criminal team’s newsletter.

Reported cases:

  • R v Arun Bajaj [2020] EWCA Crim 1111 (led by Richard Atkins QC);
  • R v Mohammed Jangir [2018] EWCA Crim 1807 (prosecuted the Crown Court trial; approach endorsed by the Court of Appeal);
  • R v. Muddassar [2017] EWCA Crim 382;
  • R v Malhi (Hardip Singh) [2016] EWCA Crim 2025;
  • R v. Needham and others[2016] EWCA Crim 455; and
  • R v Mohammed Suleman Khan [2016] EWCA Crim 2287 (appeared in place of QC).

Recent publications:

The Approach to increasing the Available Amount under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002’, published in The Criminal Law Review, Issue 9, 2020.

Case comment on R (on the application of Kombou) v Wood Green Crown Court [2020] EWHC 152, published in The Criminal Law Review, Issue 10, 2020.

Crime

Ben’s practice focuses on serious and complex cases, typically involving multiple defendants with large quantities of evidence. He is very experienced calling expert evidence, particularly in relation to the use and movement of mobile phones and vehicles, facial and body mapping, and firearms. Ben has several ongoing cases in which he is leading other junior counsel.

Recently, notable prosecution successes include:

  • 2020: 4 defendants prosecuted for murder following a ‘drive-by’ style shooting in Birmingham;
  • 2019: 8 defendants prosecuted in a tit-for-tat exchange of violence between drugs gangs that resulted in convictions for the attempted murder of 2 people amongst other offences (described in the press as a ‘mini war’);
  • 2017 – 2019: 7 defendants prosecuted for a large-scale heroin supply;
  • 2016 – 2019: prosecuted an Organised Crime Group consisting of 4 defendants, based in London but who operated nationwide laundering millions of pounds, where hundreds of thousands of pounds were seized;
  • 2017 – 2018: Prosecuted 5 armed robbers in a trial which was featured on a national television programme;
  • 2017 – 2018: Prosecuted an armed robber who killed his accomplice by driving the getaway vehicle dangerously.

Notable defence successes include:

  • Obtaining an acquittal after trial for a defendant accused of s.18 assault involving injuries including multiple broken limbs;
  • Successfully arguing self-defence on behalf of a lorry driver who had broken the leg of a man during an altercation about parking;
  • Obtaining an acquittal after trial for a secondary school teacher facing sexual allegations made by a female pupil;
  • Obtaining an acquittal after trial for offences of violence for an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD; and
  • Securing a suspended term of imprisonment for a driver who killed two people in a case of careless driving.

Homicide (Murder and Manslaughter)

In recent case Ben has acted as junior counsel in cases of the utmost gravity.

In 2020 he was the prosecution junior in a murder case involving 4 defendants and a ‘drive-by’ shooting involving a shotgun on a residential street in Birmingham. The evidence involved large amounts of CCTV compilations, cell-site material. DNA, fingerprint evidence, gunshot residue, firearms expertise, and an audio expert.

In 2019 he was the prosecution junior in a case involving 8 defendants in a tit-for-tat exchange of violence between drugs gangs that resulted in convictions for the attempted murder of 2 people amongst other offences. The case involved horrific injuries being inflicted and was described in the national press as a ‘mini war’. Again, the case involved presenting evidence spanning various fields of expertise.

Fraud, Business and Financial Crime

Ben has considerable experience of fraud cases including, most recently, frauds committed by company directors, courier frauds, VAT fraud, identity thefts, benefit frauds, and frauds in breach of trust more generally. He is a specialist Grade 4 Proceeds of Crime prosecutor and a specialist Grade 4 Fraud prosecutor.

Examples of cases include successfully prosecuting trials in:

  • A fraud targeting deceased customers’ bank accounts and then laundering the proceeds – 9 defendants were successfully prosecuted, one of whom worked inside the bank
  • A 9 defendant courier fraud case targeting elderly victims across multiple force areas
  • A former special constable for stealing her mother’s pension in a case involving sophisticated attempts to frustrate the investigation giving rise to further offences; and
  • A fraud committed against the Royal Mail involving multiple defendants selling huge quantities of stamps which had already been used in a case which received national media coverage.

His experience of prosecuting multi-defendant fraud cases also extends to a 17 defendant (identity theft) case.

He is currently prosecuting some film producers for alleged abuse of Film Tax Credits and VAT (leading junior counsel) and a case involving an NHS employee working in another person’s identity.

Ben also has extensive experience of benefit fraud cases. As well as appearing for the defence and prosecution in benefit claimant cases, he has also successfully prosecuted larger conspiracies. That work has often been high-profile, for example, cases involving a local politician and a defendant who received disability benefits whilst working as a stage-actor.

Restraint of Trade and Confiscation

As part of his fraud practice, Ben has amassed considerable experience of confiscation hearings.

Recently, he was junior defence counsel in the Court of Appeal case of R v Arun Bajaj [2020] EWCA Crim 1111, which has had far-reaching consequences for the approach to confiscation taken by Local Authorities, particularly involving Houses of Multiple Occupancy.

He prosecuted complex confiscation proceedings in a conspiracy involving drug importations valued at £1billion (without a leader). He was also a junior in a case where more than £2m was confiscated as a result of drugs offences (benefit figures were between £16 and £17million).

He has been successful in several hearings involving the determination of ownership of assets in accordance with the changes introduced by the Serious Crime Act 2015. One case litigated over 2 weeks involved multiple defendants as well as a third party and resulted in the successful confiscation of more than half a million pounds worth of property. His experience extends to prosecuting specialist Queens Counsel in this area.

He has successfully appeared in the Court of Appeal in multiple cases including R v. Malhi [2016] EWCA Crim 2025; R v Mohammed Suleman Khan [2016] EWCA Crim 2287, and R v. Muddassar [2017] EWCA Crim 382.

His experience also extends to restraint and enforcement hearings, encompassing legal argument in those fields and appearing in a related multi-track trial in the County Court, again on the issue of ownership of property.

He is also experienced in dealing with cases involving companies and the complications that can arise including piercing the corporate veil.

His published work in this field includes:

  • ‘‘The Approach to increasing the Available Amount under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002’, published in The Criminal Law Review, Issue 9, 2020.
  • Case comment on R (on the application of Kombou) v Wood Green Crown Court [2020] EWHC 152, published in The Criminal Law Review, Issue 10, 2020.

Organised Crime and Terrorism

As a Grade 4 Serious Crime panel advocate and a Grade 3 Counter-Terrorism advocate, Ben is instructed in cases of the utmost gravity.

Recently, Ben successfully prosecuted trials in (all without a leader):

  • 5 defendants (3 at trial) for conspiring to rob and burgle. The case involved car-key burglaries and robberies of high-powered cars, and then using those vehicles in robberies of small shops and cash in transit robberies, including at a bank. The offences also included the theft of a vehicle after it was seized by the police for its continued use in the crime-spree (case featured in a national television programme);
  • 7 defendants, 5 at trial, for 2 heroin conspiracies in Birmingham and Bradford. The case involved the bulk supply of importation-grade drugs with cumulative sentences of more than 50 years’ imposed;
  • A defendant for the armed robbery of a shop and then killing his accomplice whilst acting as the getaway driver;
  • 4 defendants for importing and supplying Class B and C drugs, including offences of perverting the course of justice involving attempts to frustrate the investigation of those offences. The drugs included former ‘legal highs’ and other drugs not catered for in the sentencing guidelines; and
  • 2 defendants for the armed robbery of a jewellers using a shotgun which was used to assault the employees.

In 2019 he was the prosecution junior in a case involving 8 defendants in a tit-for-tat exchange of violence between drugs gangs that resulted in convictions for the attempted murder of 2 people amongst other offences.

Ben was the junior for the prosecution in what was described by the trial Judge as the largest ever cannabis case in the UK. The case involved the prosecution of those at the head of a criminal organisation responsible for the production of cannabis across the country including its sale using Bitcoin. More recently, he prosecuted a case involving the growing of cannabis at 10 sites including large disused commercial premises.

He has been instructed in numerous cases involving ‘street supply’, including prosecuting 15 defendants for conspiracies to supply cocaine and heroin in Birmingham.

In 2018, Ben secured a positive outcome when defending in a multi-million pound case of sophisticated tobacco smuggling. The case ran to many thousands of pages of evidence.

Serious Sexual Offences

Ben has prosecuted and represented numerous defendants in cases involving a broad range of sexual offences including successfully acting in rape cases and cases involving historic allegations. He is also a busy member of  the CPS rape and serious sexual assault panel.

Ben obtained the acquittal of a teacher accused of sexually assaulting a student, and a nurse accused of assaulting a patient. Other notable successes include defending a schoolboy alleged to have assaulted a younger classmate.

Ben was the junior for the defence in a case where the defendant was charged with sexual offences against 13 victims, male and female and adults and children, over three decades, a case with complex issues around disclosure and bad character (mixed verdicts followed a lengthy trial).

He has successfully prosecuted cases of rape and other serious sexual offences. That experience encompasses DNA evidence and the use of various special measures.

He has undertaken specialist courses in the handling of vulnerable witnesses and other courses required of a specialist prosecution advocate in this field.

Motoring and Road Traffic

Ben has acted and advised in a full range of road traffic matters including cases involving allegations of dangerous driving resulting in death and serious injury. In one recent case where dangerous driving causing serious injury was alleged (and indeed, caused), he successfully acted for a bus driver where the prosecution ultimately accepted a guilty plea to careless driving avoiding the loss of his employment and resulting in an absolute discharge and a finding of special reasons.

He secured a suspended sentence in a case of careless driving where the defendant killed two occupants of another vehicle in a motorway collision.

Ben played a leading role in defence submissions accepted by the Court of Appeal in the case of R v. Needham and others [2016] EWCA Crim 455, providing guidance on sections 35A and B of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Ben has prosecuted grave road traffic cases including causing death by dangerous driving.

He has experience of calling expert witnesses, in one such case successfully arguing that a defendant’s ability to drive was not impaired notwithstanding (accepted) use of illicit drugs.

In the Magistrates’ Court his work has encompassed document offences, mounting successful arguments in relation to ‘exceptional hardship’ and ‘special reasons’, and successful procedural arguments concerning the taking of samples

Regulatory

Ben has prosecuted and defended in a broad range of regulatory matters in both the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts. Ben has been appointed to the ‘B’ list of Specialist Regulatory Advocates.

Trading Standards, Consumer Protection and Food Safety

Ben has acted in cases concerning food safety and consumer protection in the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. Recent successful examples include:

  • Prosecuting the trial of a very large slaughterhouse for not ensuring the proper checks were conducted prior to slaughter;
  • Prosecuting a local business for preparing and selling food prepared in conditions giving rise to multiple criminal offences and health risks;
  • Prosecuting a business and multiple defendants for selling dangerous vehicles in a case which gave rise to 84 criminal offences; and
  • Acting in a case involving trading standards offences stemming from building works conducted at numerous properties.

 

 

 

Environmental

Ben has successfully acted in a number of trials involving the illegal depositing of waste. Those cases include successfully prosecuting a crown court trial in a case involving multiple tons of waste deposited at Sarehole Mill park at a time when travellers were illegally encamped at the site.

Ben also has experience of waste cases involving the prosecution of companies.

He has experience of ancillary orders flowing from such convictions, for example, the forfeiting of vehicles used to transport waste (see above).

Licensing

Ben has successfully acted in licensing cases on appeal to both the Magistrates’ and crown courts. Recent successful examples include:

  • Prosecuting a defendant and his accomplice for offences relating to a taxi licence, and offences of perverting the course of justice for attempts made to create false licensing documents;
  • Prosecuting a newsagent for offences relating to illegal tobacco with overlapping licensing issues; and
  • Acting in cases where taxi licences are not renewed or revoked due to alleged behaviour resulting in a criminal conviction or otherwise (including ‘plying for hire’).

Ben also has experience of illegal money-lending cases which has complimented his work in financial crime and confiscation (see above).

He has recent experience of both prosecuting and defending in cases involving allegations stemming from the operation of (unlicensed) HMOs including at confiscation (see publications and R v Arun Bajaj [2020] EWCA Crim 1111).

Inquests & Coronial

Ben has represented the interests of companies at inquests, specifically in cases involving deaths following road traffic accidents.

Health & Safety, Corporate & Gross Negligence Manslaughter

Ben has acted as an instructor on witness familiarisation courses for HSE inspectors involving the cross-examination of HSE experts and investigators.

Reported Cases