Criminal Law

Criminal Law

“Walnut House is blessed with some serious talent at both the senior and junior ends” Chambers Directory 2007. With two QCs and fourteen junior barristers based at Walnut House and specialising in criminal work, we are one of the leading West Country sets.

Over the years our criminal barristers have appeared across the South West and nationwide in cases of the gravest kind. The strength and depth of the criminal team contributes to the quality of the representation that we can offer to all our clients.

Our experience at all levels allows us to deal confidently with technical, medical and forensic evidence and to advise on the selection of appropriate expert witnesses.

Our criminal law barristers regularly provide training in criminal law and advocacy, to Judges, barristers and solicitors, both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

Members of the Crime Team

Simon Laws Q.C.*
Paul Dunkels Q.C.
Jonathan Barnes
Mary McCarthy
Adrian Chaplin
Peter Coombe
Lee Bremridge
Barry White
Bathsheba Cassel
Joss Ticehurst
Will Parkhill
Brian FitzHerbert
Felicity Payne
Laura Searle
Emmi Wilson
John Ryder Q.C. (Door Tenant)



*Head of Crime Team
Please see our Barristers Page for full profiles


Chambers and Partners

Paul Dunkels Q.C. Band 1; Simon Laws Q.C. Band 2;
Mary McCarthy Band 3; David Evans Band 3


Murder, Manslaughter and Non-Fatal Violence

Our Criminal Barristers appear in many of the most serious cases tried in the West Country. They regularly act in murder and manslaughter cases ranging from organised killings to street violence, murder in the home and the death of children including babies.

Our Barristers are experienced in corporate manslaughter allegations.

The depth of experience in dealing with cases of maximum seriousness contributes to Chambers’ strength in providing representation in cases of non-fatal violence at all levels.


Rape and Sexual Offending

We have been at the forefront of criminal law in this area, appearing in cases of rape and sexual offending in the South West.  We deal with cases of adult and child complainants, and both recent and historic allegations by one or multiple complainants.  A number of our barristers acted in the prosecutions of two of the largest multi-generational child sex offences cases prosecuted in this country.

We are experienced in addressing medical, psychiatric and psychological evidence relevant to such cases.

Members of Chambers have delivered training to solicitors and barristers on the Western Circuit on issues arising with vulnerable witnesses and special measures and have given training on the use of live-link equipment.


Fraud, Commercial Crime. Money Laundering and Confiscation

Members of Chambers, both Leaders and Juniors, regularly defend in cases of serious fraud and other commercial crime, and prosecute for the Serious Fraud Office and other bodies.

We have built on our long experience in this field to develop expertise in the newer areas of money laundering and confiscation.

Members of Chambers can advise on issues of financial restraint, whether the order has been made in the Crown Court or the High Court.

Members of Chambers have delivered training on the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to both Barristers and Solicitors on the Western Circuit.


Robbery, Theft, and Burglary

Members of Chambers act in cases covering the full range of offences of dishonesty.


Driving Deaths and Motor Manslaughter, General Motoring Offences

Cases of causing death by dangerous driving and motor manslaughter require great skill and sensitivity, and our criminal barristers have great experience in these cases, being well able to address the demands of witness and technical evidence, as well as supporting clients through the process.

More junior members of Chambers are happy to act for accused motorists in the Magistrates’ Court, particularly in cases of dangerous or careless driving and alcohol and speeding offences.


Regulatory Offences and Health and Safety

Members of Chambers are regularly instructed to prosecute and defend in regulatory offences, and many are on the Attorney General’s List of Advocates selected to represent Government departments.

We also advise Local Authorities and individuals on a range of criminal and quasi-criminal matters. The range of work includes Fisheries Offences, Agricultural matters, Planning, Health and Safety Cases, and Electricity Regulation.


Parole Board and Prison Adjudication Hearings

Several members of the Criminal Law Team have developed an expertise in Parole Board and Prison Adjudication Hearings.  We have appeared at Prisons across the South West and Wales and dealt with many cases including discretionary life sentence appeal hearings.


Inquests and Enquiries

Our Criminal Barristers regularly act for interested parties at inquests and are regularly instructed on behalf of interested insurers in relation to deaths on the road.

We also have experience in dealing with Article 2 Inquests where there has been a death in custody or in consequence of police action.


Police and Professional Disciplinary

We are regularly instructed to represent Police Officers charged in criminal proceedings and our barristers also appear in Police and professional disciplinary enquiries.