Ben Close Crime

Call: 2009

Introduction

Ben has been a specialist criminal practitioner since he started his career in 2009. He moved to St. Philips at the beginning of 2015, since which time he has developed his work to encompass regulatory fields.

Ben is instructed by various prosecuting authorities, and the defence, typically in serious and complex cases. 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 approach.

He became a Grade 3 prosecutor at an early stage in his career and has subsequently been appointed to the CPS specialist rape panel. He is a Grade 4 specialist Proceeds of Crime and Grade 3 specialist Fraud prosecutor.

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, Ben completed an LLM in Criminal Justice before completing the Bar course. Ben 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.


Crime

Recently, notable prosecution successes include (all without a leader):

  • 2017: Prosecuting the trial of a gang of 5 armed robbers in a trial which was featured on a national television programme (Operation Chainstay);
  • 2017: Prosecuting a gang for large-scale heroin supply at trial (Operation Granthall);
  • 2017: Prosecuting an armed robber who killed his accomplice by driving the getaway vehicle dangerously; and
  • 2016: Prosecuting a 7-defendant affray where one defendant was represented by a very senior silk at trial.

Recent notable defence successes include:

  • 2016: Securing a suspended term of imprisonment for a defendant who killed two people in a case of careless driving;
  • 2016: Obtaining an acquittal after a trial for a defendant faced with an allegation of s.18 assault involving injuries including broken limbs;
  • 2016: Obtaining an acquittal after trial for a teacher facing sexual allegations made by a pupil; and
  • 2016: Obtaining an acquittal after trial for offences of violence for an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD.
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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 3 Fraud prosecutor.

Examples of cases include successfully prosecuting 9 defendants, one of whom worked inside a bank. The fraud involved targeting deceased customers’ bank accounts and then laundering the proceeds. He has also successfully prosecuted a 9 defendant courier fraud case involving the targeting of elderly victims across a wide geographical area and 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. Ben prosecuted these cases without a leader.

His experience of prosecuting multi-defendant fraud cases also extends to a 17 defendant (identity theft) case, again without a leader. He is currently prosecuting a case involving a 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.

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

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.

In 2016 he successfully appeared for the Crown in R v. Malhi [2016] EWCA Crim 2025.

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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, he successfully acted for a bus driver where the prosecution ultimately accepted a guilty plea to careless driving avoiding the loss of his driving license and 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 [2016] EWCA Crim 455, providing guidance on sections 35A and B of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

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.

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Organised Crime and Terrorism

Last year Ben successfully prosecuted (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. The offences also included the theft of a vehicle after it was seized by the police for its continued use in the crime-spree;
  • 6 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; and
  • 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.

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 the use of silk road. More recently, he prosecuted a case involving the growing of cannabis at 10 sites including large disused commercial premises.

Ben has also successfully prosecuted a trial involving the robbery of a jewellery shop with a firearm.

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

Ben is currently the prosecution junior in an extremely complex case of drug importation and supply spanning various drugs, many years and numerous jurisdictions. The case also involves allegations of money laundering.

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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 a specialist advocate on the CPS rape panel.

In 2016, acquittals included 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 undertaken specialist courses in the handling of vulnerable witnesses and other courses required of a specialist prosecution advocate in this field.

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