Areas of Practice
Prosecuting and defending all types of criminal cases with particular experience in Homicide, fraud and money laundering and drug trafficking.
I will also accept instructions to represent alleged perpetrators of serious criminal conduct in child care proceedings in the Family Court.
Professional History – Timeline
1978: BA (Hons) degree in Business Law
1980: Called to the Bar (Gray’s Inn)
1981: Elected to the Northern Circuit and joined 5 Castle Street Chambers in Liverpool
1989: 5 Castle Street merged with 27 Dale Street to become Corn Exchange Chambers
1997: Appointed Assistant Recorder
1999: Corn Exchange Chambers merged with Martin’s Bank Buildings to become 7 Harrington Street Chambers.
2000: Appointed Recorder authorised to sit in the Crown and County Courts.
2002 – 2006: Appointed to the Attorney General’s panel (A list) authorised to prosecute the most serious cases on behalf of Government departments. (Appointment relinquished automatically upon taking Silk)
2006: Appointed Queen’s Counsel.
2009: Approved to try serious sex cases in the Crown Court.
2010: Elected Bencher of Gray’s Inn
2011 – 2013: Leader of the Northern Circuit
2012 – date: Head of 7 Harrington Street Chambers
2014: Authorised to undertake Direct Access Work.
2015: Joined 3, Paper Buildings, Temple as a door tenant.
2016: Appointed Tutor-Judge to the Judicial College, participating in the continuing training of both full-time and part-time Judges.
Areas of Practice
In the first fifteen years of my practice I was engaged in all areas of the common law, and had particular experience acting in personal injury actions on behalf of the members of the National Union of Railwaymen and the Rail Marine and Transport Union. This work included accidents on rail road and sea, ranging from minor injuries to multiple fatality cases. By way of example, I acted for the families of two railwaymen who had been killed at work in both the inquest proceedings and the actions for damages.
By the mid 1990s my practice had become almost exclusively criminal and employment work.
“Very active in serious violent crime, including areas such as infanticide” (Legal 500 2020) Ranked Tier 3 (Crime, Leading Silks)
Chambers and Partners 2020
Crime Northern Bar – Band 3
Head of Chambers who is skilled as both prosecution and defence counsel for a range of criminal matters. He is particularly experienced in crimes of violence, including assault, manslaughter and murder.
Strengths: ” A very measured and capable advocate. He is extremely well regarded by the Judiciary; when he comes in, the robing room listens”.
Recent work: Prosecuted a woman who dumped a newborn baby in a hospital bin and stuffed tissue in its mount. She was charged with attempted infanticide.
“Highly experienced in defending and prosecuting in high-profie murder trials” (Legal 500 2018) Ranked tier 1
“Head of chambers who is skilled as both prosecution and defence counsel for a range of criminal matters. He is particularly experienced in crimes of violence, including assault, manslaughter and murder.”
Strengths: “He is a confident performer and if the work is heavy and gruesome, you want Richard there fighting for you.”
Recent work: Instructed to prosecute a man accused of the rape and murder of an ex-girlfriend and the murder of her mother.
(Chambers and Partners 2018)
“Head of chambers and skilled as both prosecution and defence counsel for a range of crimes of violence, including assault, manslaughter and murder”
Strengths: “He is a very charismatic silk”
Recent work: “Successfully prosecuted the aunt and grandmother of a seven year old girl on charges of child cruelty and murder.”
(Chambers and Partners 2017)
“A Criminal barrister who prosecutes and defends in equal measures. He has acted in a number of high-profile cases involving homicides and corporate manslaughters”.
Strengths: “His client care is exceptional, he is a gifted orator and is respected by the court and appreciated by the client”
Recent Work: He appeared before the Court of Appeal in a case concerning the murder of a man who died the day after a fight. The convicted’s sentences were markedly reduced, to manslaughter adn affray, after the appeal.
(Chambers and Partner 2016)
“Handles serious crime matters for the defence and the prosecution. He demonstrates particular expertise in high-profile and sensitive criminal law cases.
Recent Work: Defended a man accused of playing a part in the masked fatal shooting of a businessman.
(Chambers and Partners 2015)
“Recommended for heavyweight criminal cases” (Legal 500 2016) Ranked: Tier 1
“Equally adept in the prosecution and defence of serious crimes such as fraud and murder” (Legal 500 2015) Ranked:tier 1
“Richard Pratt QC Prosecutes and defends in high-profile murder, fraud and money laundering cases” (Legal 500 2014)
Over the years both as a junior and in silk I have prosecuted and defended in many cases of murder and manslaughter of which the following are a small sample.
R v Morgan Smith (2000) HL. Junior Counsel for the defendant in case which was at the same time a landmark case on the law of provocation.
R v RG (2005) Court of General Gaol Delivery, Douglas IoM. Counsel for the owner of the Solway Harvester (which capsized in the Irish Sea) charged with gross negligence manslaughter of the seven crew members who were lost.
R v O’D (2007) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant a student charged with murder of a fellow student during brawl outside city centre night club.
R v SM (2008) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing 18 year old charged with murder of 11 year old schoolboy Rhys Jones.
R v MS (2010) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with murder. Medical causation was a significant feature of the case, involving consideration of PRIS (propofol infusion syndrome) and alleged failures in the victim’s medical treatment.
R v F (2010) Manchester Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with murder of taxi driver who was already terminally ill raising issues of medical causation.
R v B (2010) Liverpool Crown Court. Defendant charged with manslaughter of baby, raising issues of ‘shaken baby syndrome’ with the usual confrontation of complex expert opinion.
R v C (2011) Belfast Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with terrorist murder, 37 years earlier, of Captain Robert Nairac an undercover soldier who had been posing as a republican militant.
R v GA (2014) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with murder of drug dealer involing a full blown ‘cut throat’ defence.
R v TW (2014) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with murder by shooting said to represent a gangland ‘contact killing’ execution.
R v M and S (2015) Nottingham Crown Court. Seven week trial prosecuting guardian aunt for murder of and child cruelty towards 7 year old girl. The defendant was co-accused with her mother in repsect of the child cruelty allegations.
R v CD (2015) Exeter Crown Court. Prosecuting man charged with murdering his mother.
R v JV (2015) Bristol Crown Court. Prosecuting man charged with murder and section 18 arising out of random night time attacks on members of the public, raising issues of diminished responsbility.
R v MS (2016) Manchester Crown Court. Prosecuting man charged with murder of his friend in Cockermouth, Cumbria.
R v MP (2016) Sheffield Crown Court. Defending man charged with murder and attempted murder of two brothers.
R v MW (2016) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with murder of prostitute.
R v KC (2016) Portsmouth Crown Court. Representing one of two defendants charged with attempted murder of an alleged criminal associate.
R v JC (2016) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing one of three defendants charged with murder by shooting of innocent 16 year old boy in the context of gang rivalry.
R v TD (2017) Bolton Crown Court. Prosecuting man charged with murder by stabbing of popular local man who intervened after defendant had been violent to his sister in public.
R v JM (2017) Mold Crown Court. Representing one of four defendants charged with murder allegedly arising out of drug ‘turf war’.
R v CP (2017) Liverpool Crown Court. Prosecuting defendant who murdered female acquaintance before seeking to dispose of body by carrying her to remote spot and setting fire to her body.
R v KK (2018) Liverpool Crown Court. Representing one of four defendants charged with murder of criminal associate after failed drug importation. Case involved torture and destruction of body by fire.
R v JA (2018) Lincoln Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with stabbing his friend to death.
Operation Satinleaf (2018) Leeds Crown Court. Defending one of two 15 year old boys, following investigation by the Counter Terrorism Unit charged with conspiracy to murder teachers and pupils at his school by shootings and explosions.
R v WC Operation Yale (2019) prosecuting nine handed murder trial over several weeks, against a background of gang and drug involvement.
R v W (2019) Liverpool Crown Court prosecuting man charged with manslaughter of his wife by gross negligence in failing to obtain medical assistance for her notwithstanding her obviously deteriorating condition.
R v P (2019) Liverpool Crown Court defending man charged with murder of his wife raising the partial defence of ‘loss of control’
R v B (2019) Liverpool Crown Court prosecuting man charged with murder of his friend using a crossbow.
R v A (2019-20) Liverpool Crown Court defending man charged with murder, relying on partial defence of diminished responsibility as he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. His plea of manslaughter was confirmed by the Jury’s verdict.
Fraud and Money Laundering
Operation V959 (2004) Manchester Crown Court. Prosecuted this early MTIC fraud firstly as junior Counsel and then as Leader upon the proposed retrial. The case involved far-reaching abuse of process arguments.
Operation Gelling (2005 – 2008) Manchester Crown Court. Represented Prosecution in the trial of six alleged money launderers arising out of the V959 trial. Case was prolonged due to incapacity of principal defendant and major abuse of process arguments.
Operation Echogramme (2009) Manchester Crown Court. Represented, DH, one of three defendants in trial lasting 10 weeks charged with money laundering of proceeds of MTIC fraud.
Operation Vex (2012) Kingston Crown Court. Represented SH, one of five defendants on trial for conspiracy in multi million pound VAT fraud in trial lasting 5 months.
Operation Vaulter (2013) Kingston Crown Court. Represented DM, one of five defendants involved in the freight forwarding limb of the multi million pound MTIC fraud in trial lasting 3 months.
(b) Other Frauds
R v PK (2009) Leeds Crown Court. Represented defendant PK, the lead defendant in so-called red diesel fraud in trial lasting 2 months.
Operation Valgus (2013) Mold Crown Court. Represented principal defendant in what was described as the largest mortgage fraud ever to be prosecuted in the UK. Trial lasted 5 months.
R v RL (2014 -2015) Leeds Crown Court. Four month regulatory fraud trial in Leeds Crown Court representing defendant charged with conspiracy to defraud the Drivers Vehicles Standards Agency (formerly VOSA). The allegation related to an alleged bogus scheme designed to circumvent the law and regulations relating to Operators Licenses in repsect of large goods vehicles.
Operation Bamburgh (2016) Teeside Crown Court. Representing solicitor charged with large scale mortgage fraud.
R v JM and Others (2017) Chester Crown Court. Prosecuting seven defendants (including company) in six week trial for conspiracy to defraud, arising out of a substantial and long-running car-ringing fraud.
R v S (2018) Southwark Crown Court. Representing defendant solicitor in private prosecution for conspiracy to defraud. Following arguments re abuse of process, inadequate disclosure, mishandling of prosecution witnessess, prosecution ultimately offered no evidence against S when case listed for trial.
Att. General of the IoM v W (2012) Conspiracy trial – represented defendant who was charged with offences under the Representation of the Peoples Act in the Isle OF Man amounting to election fraud.
R v CM (2018-19) Southwark Crown Court. Represented MP charged with offences under the Representation of the Peoples Act alleging that he had made false declarations regarding his electoral spending in the 2015 general election.
As a junior, I represented defendants in most of the high profile drug trials in Liverpool Crown Court in the late 1990s and 2000s including Operations Ayres Rock, Kingsway, Top, Dolphin and Montrose. In silk, I prosecuted 13 Defendants charged with conspiracy to supply class A drugs.
R v F (2007) Liverpool Crown Court. Defending man charged with conspiracy to import Class A drugs via light aircraft.
R v MG (2012) Liverpool Crown Court. Defending lead defendant in high profile case which involved large scale drug trafficking.
R v KA (2018) Canterbury Crown Court. Representing defendant charged with importing large quantity of Class A drugs from Belgium.
R v P (2006) Manchester Crown Court. First case in silk – defending serial rapist in case which raised numerous arguments on the bad character and hearsay provisions.
R v T (2006) Preston Crown Court. Gangland kidnapping and blackmail.
R v A (2008) Liverpool Crown Court. Defending Police officer charged with corruption alongside local authority officers. Prosecution were ultimatley driven to offer no evidence in the face of abuse arguments arising out of disclosure issues.
Operation Leyden (2011). Prosecuting six defendants charged with conspiracies to supply firearms and to cause explosions with the distribution and use of hand grenades. Described by the Judge who ultimately passed sentence as ‘urban terrorism’
Prosecuting Authority v H & G (2013) Extraordinary case in the Isle of Man in which the Island’s Attorney General and the Deputy Assessor of Taxation (whom I represented) were themselves prosecuted for alleged offences of perverting the course of justice.
R v JS Birmingham Crown Court (2016) Defending former soldier with rape and sexual assault raising defence of non-insane automatism arising out of sleep disorder.
R v H (2018) Teeside Crown Court defending hairdresser accused of sexual misconduct towards his apprentice.
Operation Directed (2019) Family Division Manchester. Represented alleged perpetrator of very serious sexual offences against two early-teenaged girls. During the course of his judgment, Sir Mark Hedley specifically exonerated our client from any such behaviour.
Knowsley MBC v V (2019) Instructed to represent mother in proceedings in which issues of Police Disclosure, PII, Closed Court Procedure and Special Advocate were raised.
Sefton MBC v K (2019 – 20) Instructed to represent mother in case involving allegations of ‘baby-shaking’ and alleged NAI.
Knowsley MBC v H (2019-20) Instructed to represent mother in case involving allegations of sexual and physical abuse of children.