Richard Atkins QC Homicide (Murder and Manslaughter)

Call: 1989 | Silk: 2011

Chair of the Bar 2019
Bencher of Gray's Inn

*** Please note that Richard is the current Chair of the Bar for 2019. For all enquires please contact his clerk, Joe Wilson on 0121 246 2136 or ***


Described in the Legal 500 as “The dedicated Richard Atkins QC is a powerful and persuasive advocate who attracts praise for his ability to command and control the courtroom and proceedings.

Placed in Band 1 of the Chambers and Partners Directory which names Richard as “A quintessential jury advocate” and “a very smooth performer.

Richard specialises in serious criminal and regulatory offences concentrating on homicide, fraud, health and safety and consumer law and trading standards cases. He has extensive experience in murder and manslaughter cases; complex multi-defendant high value frauds and serious sexual offences. He defends and prosecutes in equal measure and his reputation is as an approachable, engaging and entertaining advocate. He is well known for his ability to assimilate a large amount of facts and to put the matters across to the tribunal he is appearing before in an effective and easily digestible manner. He has appeared regularly in the Court of Appeal.

His regulatory practice comprises of Consumer Law and Trading Standards cases, Health and Safety cases including associated inquests and cases arising from business offences. He has appeared before the Professional Golfers’ Association National Disciplinary Committee and has advised the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association. He has prosecuted for the Serious Fraud Office. He has previously dealt with liquor and entertainment licensing cases.

He is regularly instructed to defend in privately funded cases and encourages the use of fixed or capped fees providing certainty of costs for clients. He is Direct Access qualified. Depending on the nature of the case he is prepared to act without a junior.

Richard regularly gives seminars in St Philips Chambers on Regulatory and Criminal Law topics. He has also been instrumental in providing in-house seminars for clients tailored to their specific needs and requirements and has recently delivered a seminar to the West Midlands Police National Fraud Forum.

Richard sits as a Crown Court Recorder and is authorised to try all criminal offences except homicide. He has recently been appointed as one of a small number of Judicial College Tutor Judges in which role he trains Crown Court and High Court Judges and Recorders. He is also a Midland Circuit and Gray’s Inn Advocacy Trainer.

Richard is the Head of the St Philip’s Chambers Criminal Group and a member of the St Philip’s Chambers Regulatory Group.

What the Directories Say:

  • “A quintessential jury advocate.” and “He is a very smooth performer.” – Chambers UK 2019
  • “A born advocate.” and “A very authoritative silk.” – Legal 500 2019
  • “A very impressive silk; juries love him.” – Legal 500
  • “Conscientious, meticulous and fearless.”, “He has risen quickly to senior-silk status.” – Legal 500
  • “He is a highly experienced advocate and is admired for his serious crime practice, which features both prosecution and defence work, in cases ranging from murder to fraud.” – Chambers UK
  • “He is a very intelligent and very sharp advocate.” – Chambers UK

Qualifications and Appointments:

  • Judicial College Tutor Judge – 2012
  • Queen’s Counsel – 2011
  • Recorder of the Crown Court – 2005
  • Bar Finals – 1989
  • BA (Hons) Jurisprudence, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University – 1988
  • King Henry VIII School Coventry – 1973-1984

Other Information:

Richard is Chair of the Bar 2019.

He is a member of the BARCO escrow account committee. He was vice-Chairman of the 2013 Bar Conference and the Chairman of the 2014 Bar Conference. He helped to launch the Bar Council Speakers for Schools project and is actively involved in the Bar Council’s “Speak up for others” programme, regularly giving talks to schools and Universities in and around the Midlands about the Law. He chairs the St Philip’s Chambers and Aston University annual “Access to Law and the Bar” Conference. He has also acted as a Judge in the Finals of the Bar Council National Schools Mock Trials Competition. As both a Midland Circuit and Gray’s Inn Advocacy trainer, he trains pupils and new practitioners in the art of advocacy.

Richard is the first Barrister to be elected to the Birmingham Law Society Council. Richard was Chairman of the Governors of the Coventry Schools Foundation (2011-2014), which governs King Henry VIII Senior and Preparatory Schools and Bablake Senior, Junior and Pre-Prep Schools. In this role he has also chaired tribunals dealing with teachers’ and parents’ grievances and heard appeals from the decisions of the Headmasters.

Richard is also a professional after-dinner speaker and has spoken at such events as the Birmingham Law Society President’s Dinner, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Dinner, the Birmingham Medico-Legal Association Dinner and the Association of Cardiovascular Intervention Physicians Annual Dinner. He enjoys 20th Century Military History, Ballroom dancing, good red wine and (last but not least) his family.

Homicide (Murder and Manslaughter)

Richard has extensive experience of homicide cases, both prosecuting and defending. He has dealt with numerous killings arising out of domestic arguments including acting for the defence in a high profile case where the body of a young Polish woman was found in a suit case on wasteland in Burton on Trent and in another case in Stafford where a son killed his mother whilst under the influence of solvents. In the latter case the issues included fitness to plead, diminished responsibility by reason of abnormality of mental functioning, and self-induced intoxication. He has considerable experience of dealing with cases involving the deaths of young children and cases with complex medical issues involving pathologists, toxicologists and paediatricians.

He led for the defence in a case of perverting the course of public justice linked to a very high profile murder. He prosecuted a murder where all of the evidence was circumstantial and the case relied heavily on forensic scientific evidence. He has also prosecuted a number of high profile gang related shootings in and around the West Midlands and defended in drugs related killings.

Most recently Richard was instructed to lead for the defence in the high profile case of R v Pavlo Lapshyn who was charged with the murder of an 82 year old Muslim man in a random attack in the street In Birmingham, 3 counts of causing an explosion relating to the planting of bombs at Mosques in Tipton, Walsall and Wolverhampton and 1 count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts which related to future planned attacks. The case was heard at the Old Bailey (The Central Criminal Court). Richard persuaded the Prosecution to accept pleas to fewer charges and limited the basis of the pleas in relation to the terrorist and bomb offences.  After making submissions relating to European, Human Rights and English law, he successfully persuaded Mr Justice Sweeney not to pass a whole life sentence.

Reported Cases:

R v Pavlo Lapshyn (2013). Defended the Ukrainian charged with the murder of an 82 year old Muslim and the setting off of bombs at Mosques in and around the West Midlands.

R v Small (2013). Defended a man charged with the murder of his drugs supplier.

R v Cummins (2012). Prosecuted a man charged with the murder of his girlfirend. All of the evidence was circumstantial.

R v Young (2012). Defended the man accused of being the “getaway driver” in the Birmingham riots killing case.

R v Cupori (2012). Defended a man charged with the murder of his mother whilst under the influence of butane gas. Issues included the new partial defence of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, insanity, mental capacity and intoxication.

R v Chima (2011). Defended a man charged with the torture and murder of a fellow alcoholic.

R v Sobczak (2011). Defended a man charged with the murder of a young woman whose body was found in a suitcase on wasteland in Burton-on-Trent.

R v Price (2010). Defended a man charged with a gang related killing in Wolverhampton.

R v Asghar (2010). Prosecuted a man for the killing of a prostitute who fell from his car.

R v Hand and Westwood (2009). Prosecuted the parents of a vulnerable child who had died in their care. They had lost a previous child which had initially been viewed as a non-suspicious death but which in the light of the subsequent death was re-investigated and formed part of the evidence in the case.

R v Oliver Weldon and Price (2008). Prosecuted the murder of an innocent man who was mistaken for the intended victim and whose body was burned and buried in a field.

R v Hamilton (2008). Defended a man charged with attempted murder arising from gang related activities in Wolverhampton.

R v Perks (2008). Defended a man charged with the alleged homosexual killing of a homeless man.

R v Patterson (2007). Defended a man charged with the killing of his wife following a row over a pizza.

R v Hamilton (2007). Prosecuted an attempted murder where the victim who had suffered serious brain damage was called as a Prosecution witness.

R v Dooley (2005). Defended a man charged with a gang related murder.

R v Beckford and others (2004). Prosecuted a gang related murder arising out of a drugs dispute.

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