Stephen Linehan QC

Stephen Linehan KC

Stephen Linehan QC

Practice History

  • Serious complex crime including; organised crime, gang related killing, sadistic and sexual killing, Prison deaths, Familial and ‘Honour’ killings, baby and child homicide, drug trafficking, human trafficking, immigration offences, serious sexual offences, Health and Safety deaths and large scale fraud.
  • Cases regularly involving:
    • Large volumes of material requiring marshalling and careful analysis
    • Complicated factual matrices and points of law
    • Multiple defendants with competing interests
    • Complex expert evidence
    • Difficult issues relating to disclosure, public interest immunity, RIPA 2000 (and related), witness anonymity, hostile witnesses and vulnerable witnesses
  • Regularly instructed for many years by CPS and Police in matters involving highly sensitive material requiring sound judgement, impartiality and independence, and in cases requiring a professional approach that includes empathy and understanding.
  • Health and Safety deaths, including manslaughter by gross negligence.
  • Appellate work, including landmark low copy number DNA appeal.

High profile cases

Stephen Linehan KC is calm under pressure; clear thinking; quick to grasp a complex factual matrix or difficult legal issue; judicious; alive to public perception; able to handle press requests and applications.  E.g.:

  • The murder of an on-duty police officer. First case to obtain permission from the Home Office to use material covertly recorded during prison visits.  Subsequently successfully defended an appeal against such use and thereafter conducted a number of prosecutions using such material.
  • Prosecution of two defendants, one of whom was ‘transsexual’, who had tortured and murdered a young woman. Significant press interest.
  • Prosecution of a ‘Home Office ‘Adviser’ on the ‘Prevent’ programme, who had conspired with a police officer to obtain information from the PNC about the whereabouts of a woman, who had fled with her children to a refuge.
  • Prosecution of a criminal gang, which drove out mainly elderly residents of a Residential Park Home in a modus operandi that involved setting fire to caravans in order to frighten residents and devalue their homes. Advised they should be prosecuted for arson and conspiracy to blackmail in order to fully reflect the seriousness of the criminality.

Prosecution of professional criminals hired to blackmail a victim into paying large sum of money, who used ‘hand grenades’ to bomb the victim’s home.

Appeal cases

Deals with difficult and novel points of law. E.g.:

  • Leading case in Court of Appeal on the validity of low copy number DNA
  • Use of covertly obtained material during prison visits
  • Whether a defendant who, during trial, had denied any involvement in a killing could later appeal his conviction on the basis that he had killed but was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.
  • Whether the owner of a vehicle, who gave permission to another to drive his vehicle when aware that person was drunk, could be guilty of death by dangerous driving.

A leader and a team player

Able to direct; independent yet supportive; cooperative; inclusive. E.g.:

  • Advised prosecution of husband for murder of wife despite earlier opposing advise from other counsel. Collaborative approach to obtaining the necessary further evidence to enable a successful prosecution.
  • Advised prosecution of a man for the murder of his mother despite police and CPS reluctance due to concern about sufficiency of evidence. Set out the potency of the evidence already immediately available and advised steps to take to evidence other matters relevant to proving guilt.
  • Having initially advised against disclosure, listened to and accepted junior counsel’s concerns raised with me about that decision and advised disclosure should be made.

Extremely effective communicator

Able to address salient points in a clear and concise way in order to help others understand and consider the issues. E.g.:

  • Successfully explaining to a jury that the principal prosecution witness (who had been the victim of kidnap, assault and blackmail) would lie to them about the reasons for his kidnap yet tell the truth about the actual kidnap and assault events and that his lies about ‘why’ did not mean he was lying about the events themselves.
  • Successfully explaining to a jury why three eyewitnesses to a killing had lied and would continue to lie about the events that preceded the killing and yet could be accepted as reliable as to the facts of the killing itself.
  • Very successful police officer court awareness training such that numerous officers who happened to work with me many years later referred to the ‘invaluable lessons’ they had learned.
  • Respected by young advocates being trained in the art of criminal advocacy and legal argument.


  • To ACPO level officers upon their exercise of their powers under RIPA 2000 (and related)
  • To West Midlands Police in relation to sensitive and proactive policing tactics and disclosure
  • At the (then) National Specialist Law Enforcement Centre
  • On the (then) West Midlands Police Trainee Investigators Development Programme
  • Advocacy Trainer and Assessor.

Appointments and Memberships

  • Recorder from 1983 to 2019. Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Certificated.
  • Former Head of Chambers



Stephen Linehan KC

Call 1970 | Silk 1993
Stephen Linehan QC
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