Recent Serious Crime High Profile Cases
Michael Wolkind is widely considered to be one of the UK’s top serious criminal barristers and QC’s. Click below to see more details of each case:
DW was charged with demanding money with menaces. The defendant was formerly a marine and then was active in the Special Services. He was paid to track down a man alleged to owe his client money. He located the so-called victim after surveillance via tracking devices and secret photographing of family including children and grandchildren. He then made an approach allegedly leaving one man “petrified” . He asked for $32million. After cross-examination by Michael which destroyed the credibility of the “victim” the jury acquitted in just a few minutes.
RM was a taxi driver and pleaded guilty to a series of increasingly serious sex offences committed against various passenger, including a number of rapes. However, Michael persuaded the trial Judge that the Defendant was not “dangerous” and accordingly he avoided the harsher sentencing provisions. The prosecution, led by the Solicitor General, then appealed the sentence to the Court of Appeal arguing it was “unduly lenient” but again Michael argued successfully and the sentence was untouched.
IH was charged with dealing in and retaining money from crime. The evidence proved he purchased a money counting machine and he had £130,000 in cash when the police searched his home and car. The jury unanimously acquitted him
MB was charged with an affray which featured him biting off the ear of one of his victims. CCTV showed him “hugging the victim” and baring his teeth. The ear then lay on the ground at their feet. Michael persuaded the Judge that the Court could not be certain that he caused the injury and the defendant received a suspended sentence rather than the several years imprisonment expected.
JS was embroiled in an all-out family “war” and was charged with both attacking his wife and causing GBH to his father-in-law. In a very bitter trial, he was speedily acquitted.
MM strangled his wife under the delusion that she had abused their son. He continued to assert this but only prolonged and delicate negotiation led to the prosecution accepting a plea to manslaughter. They had started with the strong view that he was faking mental health problems.
AE was accused of sexual attacks and consistent misconduct towards his sister-in-law over a long period of years, starting as long ago as the 1980’s. She and other members of the family claimed he confessed many times and tapes were made of him admitting and apologising for the crimes. He pleaded not guilty saying every allegation was fabricated. Michael cross-examined the complainant and all supporting family members. The jury then acquitted AE on all counts after just a few minutes considering their verdicts.
A young man was convicted of sex offences. Michael was instructed to consider a sentence appeal. Michael was confident he could get the sentence reduced. The trial solicitors said there was no chance. The trial barrister said there was no chance. The single judge at the Court of Appeal considered there were no Grounds. Michael fought to the full court and won the appeal achieving a significant reduction in sentence.
X was charged with the rape of a teenage girl. He had “enticed” her into his car and drove to a secluded lane. He had been tried and convicted of this allegation and served some months in prison before he instructed Michael. Following a successful appeal he was released on bail and awaited a retrial before all charges were dropped and he was formally acquitted.
MH was charged with raping a 16 year old virgin. He left the country within days of the incident and was only tried 5 years later. The Jury took just 1 hour to clear him.
SD was charged with possession of explosives, possession of a regulated chemical, and other offences. Michael persuaded the prosecution to proceed on a single matter and persuaded the Judge to grant an Absolute Discharge.
JH was a teenager who discharged a disguised Taser in a crowded nightclub. Michael managed to persuade the Court of Appeal to reduce for “exceptional reasons” the statutory minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment to one of 3 years instead.
Michael argued that legal directions given by the Trial Judge to the jury had been in error. The Court of Appeal quashed all the convictions.
GD was found in possession of thousand of indecent images, hundreds in the worst category. He also shared images of his granddaughter on a foreign site. Michael persuaded the Judge not to send him to prison.
Dr. X was alleged to have slapped a former partner after harassing and stalking him over some months since the end of their relationship.
The Court of Appeal was persuaded to take 4 years off the sentence of a man who burned to death a family gang rival.
AC was accused of 9 sexual offences against his own adopted daughter and said to have been committed over her teenage years. He was speedily found not guilty of all charges by the jury in Lincoln
OU was accused of a serious sex crime. Conviction would have ruined his professional and personal reputations and lost him his business. The relieved Defendant said on acquittal, “I am so grateful to Michael for his total preparation before trial and his total performance at Court”.
Michael represented a defendant charged with cocaine supply. The Judge passed a sentence of 2 years and 6 months immediate imprisonment. Michael responded immediately and addressed the court again. He persuaded the Judge to change his sentence to one of 2 years, fully suspended.
Exceptional sentence passed in firearms case. PA had stored a revolver and live ammunition in his home. The law demands a minimum 5 year sentence. Michael “demands” and achieves a suspended sentence.
JD, a far younger man, was alleged to have deliberately driven at a man in his 70’s, a cancer sufferer. A large number of witnesses claimed he lined his car up to hit the victim who was thrown onto JD’s bonnet. He was speedily acquitted.
In a high profile case with widespread National coverage, Michael acted for JM, a former partner of the convicted paedophile Rock musician Ian Watkins. Over years of an on-off relationship they shared admittedly indecent photographs, and filmed themselves having sex together and discussing how to kidnap, abuse and even kill babies and children. Watkins was later sentenced to 35 years imprisonment. Michael argued the defence that JM had “legitimate reasons” for her actions, that she was trying to incriminate Watkins so he would be arrested. Most unusually in law, the Burden of Proof was on the Defendant, she had to show her account was likely to be true. The Jury acquitted her of all 7 charges she had faced.
On the same day as the case above, just 30 mins later, came the decision that the Prosecution would not proceed with charges against a bank employee alleged to have made threats to kill one of her bosses. The prosecution also claimed she had made repeated bomb hoaxes that emptied the building and caused city wide disruption. Michael submitted argument that the evidence was not safe to link her with the offences.
Michael had been acting for more than a year to persuade the CPS and Police to drop an investigation against a Lawyer suspected of giving false evidence in a criminal trial. The news of their favourable decision appeared in an email 10 minutes after the phone call in 2 above. 3 successes in one day.
Michael represented SM, a solicitor, who had been convicted at a trial and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. The appeal prepared by the trial lawyers was then rejected before Michael took over. He persuaded the Court to grant leave and then argued the Appeal itself. The conviction was quashed and SM released.
X was accused of breaking into the home of his former girlfriend, strangling and assaulting her. She claimed he threatened to rape her. The jury saw photos of her facial and neck injuries. They also saw her ripped underwear. On arrest X threw himself over a balcony in a suicide attempt. Michael cross-
Michael represented a promising Bar student who was offended by a man who barged by him outside a nightclub. AR chased after the man and pushed him in the back. The man’s friend, an off-
SF was sentenced at the Crown Court for assaulting a former partner of his mother. He inflicted serious wounds in an attack with punches, kicks, and the use of a hammer. His family approached Michael to appeal the sentence. The Court of Appeal accepted his argument that the Judge had paid insufficient attention to the family history and reduced the sentence by 2 years
FG was charged with theft of a watch. He was filmed on CCTV at a gym taking the property, zipping it into his bag and leaving the area. This sort of ‘small’ case can be of great importance to a defendant. It is not only good character and reputation at stake but also the ability to travel abroad on business. Such cases must be won. He explained that he was moving the property for safety and was acquitted in 30 minutes.
This man was convicted of 3 counts of rape in 2011 when other counsel acted for him. He served 13 months in prison until Michael won his appeal and he was granted bail. At the retrial Michael ‘totally destroyed’ the evidence of the complainant and the Jury speedily found TG ‘Not Guilty’. The conviction had naturally led to the loss of his sensitive employment and the ruin of his reputation. The acquittal, when Michael became involved, gave him some chance to rebuild his life.
X was charged with attempted murder of a 93 year old after repeatedly stabbing him in the face. Michael obtained psychiatric evidence and the Court held a special hearing at which the defendant was found unfit to be tried. He was released with a Supervision Order.
Physiotherapist allowed back in practice. Michael acted for a suspended practitioner. The Authority opposed his return to practice, arguing he had been acting in “flagrant breach” of their Order. Michael persuaded the Panel that the evidence against him was unreliable.
WA acquitted of firearms and Threats to Kill. Michael defended a man accused by relatives of brandishing a gun at them and on different days threatening to kill them. Michael exposed the real background that the relatives owed a considerable amount of money and were making false allegations to avoid repayment. After an Abuse argument the Prosecution offers no evidence and WA was acquitted with costs.
Michael called new evidence before the Court of Appeal who quashed the conviction of a police sergeant who had been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for 3 counts of rape
The Owner and CEO of Grays Athletic soccer club, Andy Swallow, was acquitted of conspiracy to cause Violent Disorder. The prosecution alleged that he attended a Cup match between Dagenham and Milwall in order to orchestrate an attack on the away fans. They relied on earlier film of him mocking and provoking Milwall fans and then leading a large group out of the match only 7 minutes into the second half. The game ended in a boring 0-0 draw. The trial ended in a clear win for the Defence.
AW with a single punch left V permanently damaged. His defence was that he approached to help after V had been subject to homophobic abuse. AW was greeted with threats and spat at. He “feared for his life” and punched in self-defence believing V was about to assault him.
Michael acted for MM, as Arsenal fan who travelled to Liverpool for the Anfield match the next day. At a nightclub in the early hours there was a running argument between a number of Arsenal fans and another London man. MM’s defence was that he acted only as a “peacemaker”. The victim was punched to the floor then kicked to death, but MM had intervened only to try and stop the fight. Michael had to deal with further prosecution evidence of MM filmed in the back of a taxi straight afterwards, where he appeared to be gloating over the incident. MM was speedily acquitted of both murder and manslaughter.
AA was charged with diverting a case and fees to his father’’s immigration firm. He did not notify his employer. The jury took minutes to acquit.
Michael acted for the first defendant of 9 accused of a revenge killing after his client had a falling-out with his employer. GR was alleged to have recruited a gang who, armed with guns and knives, burst into the employer’s home and attacked him and others there. After Michael cross-examined the main witness, a long legal argument followed and led the Prosecution to offer no further evidence and GR was acquitted.
Michael acted for DD, charged with murder. Witnesses said he called the victim and threatened him. DD was showing off a knife, and demonstrated how he would stab the other man. He then went round to the victim’s flat and in the ensuing fight he stabbed him to death. Michael cross-examined the first witnesses to such effect that he was then able to persuade the prosecution and court that there was no proof he had taken the knife to the scene, and avoid the 25 year tariff.
Better still, he also persuaded them to accept a manslaughter plea. A Goodyear indication of 8 1/2 years was further reduced after mitigation to 8 years. This left the defendant to serve 4, a result 21 years better that could have been expected.
Tony Discipline, who plays Tyler Moon in the popular soap, was acquitted of one count of GBH and another of ABH after a Nightclub incident. The first complainant alleged that the actor attacked him without any justification, and his jaw was broken in 2 places. The other man alleged that Discipline punched him twice. Michael cross-examined each witness with such effect that the Judge stopped the case because their evidence was exposed as contradictory and unreliable.
The Defendant publicly thanked Michael describing him as: “the magnificent, articulate, larger-than-life barrister“
Levi Walker was a member of the Midlands gang, the Raiders. He was convicted in 2008 of the shooting execution of a drug-dealing competitor called Kevin Nunes. He was sentenced to Life Imprisonment with a minimum term of 27 years. The crime was described by the Judge as “a brutal execution, a barbaric murder”. The victim’s body had four bullets and his skull had been fractured with nine blows. Michael was instructed in the Appeal from 2009 and the following years involved the gradual destruction of the prosecution case at trial. Significant police misconduct was exposed and the main trial witness for the prosecution was shown to be wholly unreliable. The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and agreed that there would not be a re-trial.
This was a notable acquittal against DNA odds of 1,000 billion to one
In 2005 the body of a sex worker was found in the undergrowth of woods in the Red Light district of Liverpool. She had been viciously beaten and strangled. The investigation was of great local notoriety, with a serial confessor once charged and then silence for the following years until a Cold Case review.
A match was now made between DNA recovered from her blouse where it had been ripped open, a bandage on her ankles where she had been dragged into the woods, and crucially on her fingernails. A “scientific breakthrough” allowed the prosecution to present the overwhelming probability that the traces came from David Butler. The scientific evidence was heard over 5 days with Michael challenging the validity of the Professor’s model and, in any event, relying on innocent transfer to explain the findings if they were accurate.
The victim had boasted in the weeks before of stealing £30 from a taxi driver, and the prosecution claimed that the Defendant, a cabbie, had driven his distinctive striped taxi in the area that evening as seen on CCTV. By the close of the evidence the Defence secured an admission that he was not the driver at the time. See Daily Telegraph Article
The Defendant SM, represented by Michael Wolkind QC instructed by James Saunders, was accused of cruelty offences against his stepson, aged 10, his own daughter aged 5 and his own son aged 2. The wide-ranging allegations included a campaign against his stepson which lasted many years. The prosecution asserted that he pushed the boy’s head under water every day, sometimes after he was pulled out of bed in the middle of the night. He was also said to have severely beaten the boy. The case against him concerning his daughter alleged that he forced her to watch entirely inappropriate sexual and violent images and videos. There were further allegations of shameful sexual misconduct concerning both the older children. He was also said to have smacked his youngest child so hard that he left a bruise beneath the boy’s nappy.
The two elder children gave extensive and hostile evidence against their father but were cross-examined by Michael in a way that led to the collapse of many of the allegations. The defence presented was that SM’s wife, along with her parents and other relatives, fabricated all the accusations as revenge for an affair he had conducted.
The Judge withdrew some of the counts and the jury very speedily acquitted on all remaining matters. The Judge then made a defence costs order.
Michael represented Ian Puddick who had very publicly campaigned after he discovered his wife’s 8 year secret affair with her City businessman boss. Puddick set up camp opposite Parliament, frequently exposed the matter at Speaker’s Corner, and launched a series of web-sites. Some of the sites reproduced love-letters, others attacked the businessman for falsifying his expenses during the affair, and he also claimed a high-level conspiracy between the police and a powerful elite Security Company.
Michael argued “the right to shout ‘liar’ in a crowded chat-room”. He also memorably declared that “Ian Puddick was unwilling to take it lying down unlike, sadly, his wife did throughout the affair”.
During the trial he cross-examined the other man, suggesting the level of harassment he had really suffered was simply the same as “a burglar feels when he is caught by the police”.
Puddick was acquitted with his costs awarded.
Michael represented LH who had a long running feud with a woman whom she was accused of threatening, attacking with a hammer and then finally arranging for her murder. She was shot at on her doorstep. Clear evidence of motive, eye-witness and forensic findings combined to make a strong case against LH. Michael made preliminary submissions on disclosure which led to the prosecution offering no further evidence on any charge and she was thereby acquitted and awarded costs.
Michael represented H, a physiotherapist, who treated a female patient and was accused of deliberately exposing her and touching her intimately. Michael cross-
Michael acted for the boss of a building firm charged with the manslaughter of one of his employees. 2 of his workers were sent to repair the roof of a bedding store. They did not wear harnesses, were not attached by landyards to safe anchorage points, nor was any netting used. They had not received any specific training for working at heights. The firm had been audited and warned in the preceding months that they were in breach of numerous Health and Safety regulations.
One of the men crashed through a skylight, falling through a false ceiling below, and onto the floor of the shop. Michael presented the defence that the Defendant’s failings were not the cause of the death and fell short of being “grossly negligent” in any event.
After a trial lasting a month, at Birmingham Crown Court, the jury took just a few hours to find this Defendant not guilty of a shooting. The prosecution claimed he was stretched out of a passenger window of a car speeding at 90 mph and fired a revolver or other handgun across the roof. Michael presented a case that this man was demonstrably innocent. Instead, he and the others in his car, were themselves the victim of armed criminals who were trying to murder them but instead shot unconnected teenagers in a 3rd vehicle.
After his 3rd trial for a gang shooting murder Richard Harrison-
Arran Coghlan a Cheshire Businessman, represented by Michael Wolkind QC, was formally acquitted by the Crown Court after the CPS offered no evidence. Coghlan had been attacked in his own home by an notorious underworld figure wearing body armour, and carrying both a gun and a knife. The Defendant suffered serious knife wounds as he defended himself and eventually escaped after taking control of the firearm and shooting his attacker. The prosecution evidence against Coghlan included his possession of newspaper cuttings about the cases of Tony Martin and Munir Hussain, both dealing with home-
Michael acted for Gurpreet Ottalan, the first of 9 Defendants on an indictment charged with murder. The prosecution alleged this was a revenge attack for a minor incident hours earlier and the gang returned with firearms and body-
Michael represented 11 members of the Space Hijackers, a benign theatrical protest group. During the G20 demonstrations on April 1st 2009 they drove into London on a Saracen armoured personnel carrier to the accompanying sound of Ride of The Valkyries. They were all charged with Impersonating Police Officers. The charges were dropped.
Michael represented the home-owner Munir Hussain, the Asian businessman who had been held hostage by burglars. He and his family were threatened at knife-point that they would be killed. He managed to escape and then caught one of the gang who ended up beaten and brain-damaged. Munir was released from a term of imprisonment after Michael persuaded the Court of Appeal to take a “truly exceptional view”. The sentencing tariff for such an example of “causing grievous bodily harm with intent” would normally be around 7 years. The national debate concerning self-defence and vigilantism has again been stirred by this important court judgement.
Michael Wolkind QC acted for the Defendant Richard Harrison-Allen on his successful appeal against a conviction for murder. The Defendant had been found guilty of a gang “territorial shooting”. The appeal hearing was fully contested by the Crown.
Michael Wolkind QC represented Asher Vance, acquitted of murder at the Central Criminal Court. The Defendant was identified by several witnesses as the gunman who twice shot the victim at point-blank range.