hewertson

Practice area

Crime

Year of call: 2007


Christopher is a criminal barrister.  In recent months he has represented clients charged with attempted murder, kidnap and significant conspiracies to supply controlled drugs from London “over County Lines” (12 defendants); all with notable success (see below).

Christopher was appointed a Grade 3 Prosecutor, approved to prosecute rape, in 2014.  Amongst other cases, he has successfully prosecuted the “Soho Nail Bomber,” David Copeland for wounding with intent to cause GBH arising from a prison assault during the course of his six life sentences: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34656052

For the last three years, Christopher’s prosecution work has focused on the heavyweight prosecution of criminal gangs, including, at Kingston Crown Court, the successful prosecution of the ‘Number 1’ entrant on the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Gang Matrix’ (4 weeks).  In the last 12 months, Christopher has prosecuted Operation Kruse, led by Michael Shaw, at Luton Crown Court (12 weeks): the successful prosecution, in a pair of trials, of rival criminal street-gangs engaged in reprisal shootings of rival members and associates (conspiracies to cause GBH with intent).  Christopher was led by Michael Shaw and Barry McElduff respectively in a further pair of gang trials (Operation Holms) from July 2018 to January 2019, as a result of which 6 gang members were variously convicted of a shooting, kidnap, conspiracies to cause GBH with intent, drug dealing offences and the hacking of a 16 year old male with a machete so that his arm was nearly severed through.

Christopher’s further significant areas of work involve appearing for both the defence and the prosecution in rape and serious sexual offences, particularly those affecting children as both complainants and defendants; high-value frauds and POCA offences (often money-laundering following the prosecution of significant drugs groups).

Christopher is increasingly instructed in cases against Queens Counsel; he has multiple successful appearances in the Court of Appeal.  He has regularly garnered judicial praise for his cross-examination, speeches and legal applications bearing on complex matters of bad character, hearsay and expert evidence.

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Court of Appeal

Attempted Murder; successful Appeal Against Sentence

Christopher recently brought a successful appeal against sentence in interesting circumstances: R v W [2018] EWCA Crim.  His client was long charged with attempted murder.  There was no dispute that his client was the “knife man” in a joint-handed attack on a male in a chicken shop in Woking; the attack being caught on good-quality CCTV.  The appellant had offered a plea to s.18 wounding with intent at his PTPH.  This was roundly rejected by the Crown who declined to add the lesser offence to the indictment.  Christopher drafted a number of written representations for the prosecution to consider.  In the month before the trial, the Crown accepted the lesser plea.  The appellant was 20 years old and had no prior convictions (albeit he had a caution for assault and prior diversions as a youth for ABH and carrying knives).  At sentence, the trial judge imposed a category 1 sentence (allowing for full credit) of 8 years and found the appellant dangerous, against an inferred background of gang activity.  This sentence was extended, meaning that the appellant would serve a minimum of 6 years (two-thirds) in prison and that he could not be released from prison before the end of the 8 year tariff without the approval of the Parole Board.   He would then have been subject to an additional 3 years of licence conditions.

In the Appeal, Christopher forcefully argued that the principle of an extended sentence should not apply to this appellant in his particular circumstances: that neither the facts of the offence alone, his limited antecedent history nor the two in combination could justify vitiating the usual principles of sentencing people to prison: i.e. the punishment, deterrent effect and the protection of the public could all be well met by a lengthy determinate sentence.  In such circumstances, as a minimum, the sentencing judge should have exercised his discretion not to impose an extended sentence.  The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal on those grounds, substituting the extended sentence of 8 years to a determinate sentence.  As a matter of law, the appellant cannot now serve more than 4 years in prison without being released, unless he were to re-offend.  C.f. the analysis in Court in Saunders [2014] 1 Cr App R (S) 258 (45).

 

Successful Response to Attorney-General Reference from sentence at Court Martial

Christopher successfully responded to the first Attorney General’s Reference in history arising from Court Martial proceedings, R v C [2015] EWCA Crim 257.  The Court declined to uplift a sentence of 9 months imprisonment in respect of convictions for sexual assault by penetration on a fellow Naval seaman.  Both parties were female.  This was a case in which Leveson LJ giving judgment indicated that the sentence was ‘unduly lenient’ but that the Court was persuaded to exercise its discretion not to uplift the sentence because of the particular deleterious effect of the crime and punishment on the defendant.

Courts Martial

Chris finds his work defending members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in Courts Martial particularly rewarding.  He has successfully acted in cases including conspiracy to commit sexual assault by penetration (his client pleaded to a military charge); causing GBH on a fellow marine (his client was not immediately imprisoned and maintained his employment in the army); disobeying direct orders and being unfit for armed duty through alcohol.

Prison Law

Chris also has experience in parole hearings, adjudications and other aspects of prison law. Please contact his clerks for any additional information.


Notable Cases

(See below for cases invoving rape and other sexual offences)

  • R v C [2016] – FRAUD – Wood Green Crown Court. A documents heavy prosecution of a young male convicted of possession of multiple articles to be used in the course of or in connection with fraud. The case involved a concentrated anaylsis of forensic downloads of laptops.
  • Rv G [2016] – FIREARMS – Snaresbrook Crown Court. Successful prosecution of a Trident investigation which discovered a sawn-off shotgun loaded with compatible ammunition, carefully wrapped and stowed in a barbeque in the defendant’s garden. The issue was duress which, following advice and further enquiry, was disproved. The defendant tendered a guilty plea on full facts (following several tendered bases of plea) and received an above mandatory minimum sentence of 6 years.
  • Operation Essence [2016] – CLASS A DRUGS CONSPIRACY – Kingston Crown Court. Successfully prosecuted a Trident operation into three defendants across two conspiracies by London gang members to supply heroin and cocaine at wholesale amounts in a trial lasting 4 weeks. The main defendant was ranked number 1 on the Metropolitan Police Gang’s matrix. The Crown’s case depended on undercover policing by Trident officers as well as expert cell site, phone and Sat Nav evidence. An interesting feature of the trial is that one of the “lesser” defendants – a drugs runner for the main defendant – was found unfit to plead. The Court heard lengthy legal argument about the propriety of the jury deciding verdicts in respect of the main defendant and a “trial of the act”, in respect of the lesser defendant.
  • R v H [2016] – SECTION 18 – Portsmouth Crown Court. Successfully defended a male charged with section 18 wounding with intent to cause GBH who was unanimously acquitted by the jury. The defendant had accepted what was shown on the CCTV – that he had struck the complainant multiple times with a glass. The first, most significant blow caused the majority of the glass to shatter in the face of the complainant. A successful and detailed bad character application was made to admit the complainant’s violent convictions. The defendant successfully raised self-defence/lack of intent. The case involved the cross examination of independent witnesses, attending police officers and a staff hospital nurse.
  • Rv M [2016] – FIREARMS – Wood Green Crown Court. Defendant of former good character convicted of possessing an antique handgun contrary to his defence of possessing the item as a “mere curiousity or ornament”. The revolver housed a modern Magnum round of ammuntion that was not, in fact, compatible with the gun. Mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years imposed.
  • R v H [2016] – ARSON WITH INTENT TO ENDANGER LIFE – Central Criminal Court. Successful prosecution of H for setting alight net curtains in a basement flat belonging to a local, vulnerable couple who had incurred the violent displeasure of the defendant. The fire destroyed the inside of the flat by smoke damage. The arson followed a lengthy chronology of anti-social and targeted behavior.
  • R v C [2015] – SECTION 18 – Woolwich Crown Court. Successfully prosecuted the “Soho Nail Bomber” in a 7-day Newton hearing in respect of a pre-meditated prison assault on a fellow inmate, who C perceived had slighted him, using a homemade, bladed weapon. Multiple written and oral legal submissions in respect of the proper approach to sentence in circumstances where the defendant already faced six life sentences. A consecutive sentence was still passed as a determinate custodial sentence can be lawfully made consecutive to extant indeterminate sentences. HHJ Dhir QC observed that she had been assisted by junior counsel in the case as if assisted by Silks.
  • R v I [2015] – SECTION 18 – Harrow Crown Court. Prosecuting Trident investigation of gang violence between two gangs in north-west London. An unspecified motive, believed to be drugs. The defendant was prosecuted for stabbing with a knife picked up in a kebab shop, despite having received life-threatening injuries in knife wounds caused to him moments before he struck out. The complainants did not – as one might expect – give evidence and were successfully prosecuted for a conspiracy to commit section 18 against this defendant.
  • [2015] – MILITARY LAW: ARMY SERVICE COMPLAINT – Represented an Army Major and Regimental Medical Officer (practicing army doctor) in respect of a Service Complaint by that officer against the Army. The complaint concerned a material failure by the Army in respect of its employment duties to an officer who was psychiatrically injured when serving on a full and notorious tour of Afghanistan and subsequently. The complaint was heard over two days by a full army board, made up of Brigadiers, at Army Headquarters.
  • R v K & S [2015] – ARMED ROBBERY – Reading Crown Court. Successfully prosecuted the two-handed trial of an armed robbery of a convenience store in Slough (multiple machetes held by a group of 6). One of the defendants was a disgruntled former employee and had been part of the “inside job”. The other defendant was the main organiser who had hired a car and recruited others from north London. Case involved interesting “car tracker” evidence. The prosecution successfully applied to add counts of perverting the course of justice against the main defendant for his efforts to interfere (and incite others to interfere) with a main prosecution witness. A little-known mechanism was used in order to indict the PCOJ counts, when they had not previously been sent from the Magistrates Court
  • Operation Sultan [2014] – DRUGS CONSPIRACY – Portsmouth Crown Court. Led by Elisabeth Bussey-Jones in a 4 week trial. A UKBA search of a lorry at Portsmouth Docks discovered concealments containing 52 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about £10 million. This brought to an end a criminal conspiracy lasting 18 months, involving 30 consignments, organised by the same conspirators, shipped from industrial warehouses in Spain to a rented agricultural unit in Sussex. The conspiracy was sophisticated in its construction and ambition and involved ‘layering’: conspirators hid behind the use of a false identity, using false passport details and a series of carefully constructed emails from accounts subscribed in Spain and the Netherlands in an unsuccessful attempt to suggest they were ‘innocent dupes’ rather than members of an organised crime group. The defendants maintained business links with several legitimate UK companies in order to arrange the logistics of transporting the loads. The case reached the Court of Appeal twice. First, in respect of a successful Attorney General’s Reference on sentence for both co-defendants, who received adjusted sentences of 20 and 19 years respectively. Second, in an unsuccessful appeal against conviction by the first defendant in which Chris Was lead by Elisabeth Bussey-Jones: R v E [2016] EWCA Crim 473.
  • R v M & A [2014] – ARMED ROBBERY – Amersham Crown Court. Allegation of armed robbery of a convicted drug dealer (at the point of a drug deal) by the two defendants who were both convicted drug dealers. Despite self-evident challenges to the reliability of the prosecution’s evidence, both defendants were convicted by the jury.
  • Rv W & others [2014] – PROCEEDS OF CRIME ACT OFFENCES – Oxford Crown Court. Successfully raised the issue of an abuse of process, defending a young employee of a scrap yard in relation to a long-running undercover police operation involving officers posing as “salt of the earth” workmen offering “stolen” power cable for sale. The operation lasted for more than six months and involved a significant number of scrap yards. The defendant, with others, faced charges of “attempting to convert stolen property” under the Proceeds of Crime Act  (the property was possessed by the police and therefore was not “criminal property”). While a prosecution for an attempt at the impossible is permissible in law, our robust case was that this contrived process amounted to entrapment. Following lengthy written and oral legal argument, the prosecution offered no evidence against Chris’s client.
  • Rv O [2012] – KIDNAPPING – Reading Crown Court. Defended a man who admitted the kidnap of his wife’s lover by striking him repeatedly with golf clubs and forcibly taking him from his home in the boot of his car. The allegation involved “dumping” the complainant in a layby whereupon there was further repeated violence with the golf clubs and threats to kill the complainant. The defendant was convicted of threats to kill but suceeded on some of the more important factual disputes as part of the trial of the issue.

Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

  • R v K [2015] – RAPE – Brighton Crown Court. Prosecuted the defendant for multiple rape of two women who were his biological daughters; a fact not accepted by the defendant at the time. The offences were committed in the 1980s and then again in the 1990s. Since then, the defendant had married, had fathered other grown-up children of the marriage and was living a purportedly law-abiding life as a taxi driver. The defendant was sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. The defendant called a number of defence witnesses who were cross-examined.
  • R v R [2015] – RAPE – Hove Crown Court. Prosecuted an alleged date rape by a manager at a graphic design firm (of good character). The complainant was a junior employee of the company, and a graphic designer. The defendant had gone back to the flat of the complainant following Christmas drinks with members of the office. The Crown’s case was that the defendant engineered his invitation back to the flat by willingly missing a variety of means to get home. When the complainant then announced that she was too tired to stay up and got under the covers of the sofa bed still in her clothes she fell asleep and the defendant acted. The jury were in retirement a long time and acquitted by majority.
  • R v G [2015] – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – Hove Crown Court. Successful prosecution of a male in his 60s who sexually abused his step-daughter and, much later in time, his niece from an unconnected branch of the family. The case had a dual dynamic of recent allegations and historical ones but had a common factual nexus by the fact the abuse was perpetrated in the defendant’s home against family members. The case involved consideration of lots of third party material.
  • R v Z [2015] – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – Reading Crown Court. Successfully defended a father alleged to have committed three counts of oral sex on his 8-year old daughter. The allegations caused the immediate break-up of the family. Very unusually, a successful section 41 application was made to admit the prior sexual behavior of the 8 year old. This amounted to locking the bathroom door and watching pornographic material on a tablet. There was an available suggestion that is where she obtained the idea of such sexual conduct in circumstances where the allegations were, on the defence case, fictitious and false.
  • R v S, Court Martial [2014] – SEXUAL ASSAULT BY PENETRATION – A case involving an allegation of conspiracy to commit sexual assault against three Seamen within a mess onboard a Royal Naval ship. Lengthy written and legal submissions were made in respect of whether there was any significant case to answer for our client. In the event, he entered an acceptable plea to a military poor conduct charge, with no sexual connotations.
  • R v C, Court Martial [2014] – SEXUAL ASSAULT BY PENETRATION – Represented a female Seaman who was convicted of two counts of sexual assault against a female colleague. Subsequently and successfully, Chris responded to the first Attorney General’s Reference in history arising from Court Martial proceedings,R v C [2015] EWCA Crim 257. The Court declined to uplift a sentence of 9 months imprisonment in respect of convictions for serious sexual offences.
  • R v D [2013] – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – Portsmouth Crown Court. Defended an 18 year old male who, shortly before trial, pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a 13 year old girl over the internet and social media. The significant complicating feature at sentence was that the offence was committed within the currency of a 3-year Youth Rehabilitation Order imposed for committing rapes against a child under 13 (consensual contact) when he was 17. Following lengthy written submissions, amplified by oral submissions at sentence, the Judge was persuaded to revoke the YRO and not to resentence for the prior rape; but rather to treat the history as an aggravating feature of the new offence. The Court was persuaded, in the particular circumstances of the case, not to strictly apply the sentencing guidelines.
  • R v M [2011] – SEXUAL ASSAULT – Winchester Crown Court. Defended a staff manager at a restaurant who was acquitted after trial of an allegation of sexually assaulting a young female employee under his supervision. The allegation included falsely imprisoning her in the staff toilet and involved cross-examination of the young complainant and two corroborating witnesses.

Education

  • LLB (Hons) Law with International Law, University of Nottingham and the University of Queensland, Brisbane
  • BVC, Nottingham Law School

Inn

  • Lincoln’s Inn (Hardwicke Scholar 2006, The Shelford Scholarship 2008)

Other

  • Member of the Criminal Bar Association
  • Member of the Western Circuit

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