hewertson

Practice area

Crime

Year of call: 2007


Chris is a criminal barrister with a strong practice, instructed for the defence and prosecution in complex and lengthy trials.  In recent months he has represented clients charged with attempted murder, kidnap and significant conspiracies to supply controlled drugs from London “over County Lines” (10 defendants); all with notable success (see below).

Chris is a Grade 3 Prosecutor and a Rape and Child Sexual Abuse Specialist Panel Member.   In 2014, he was one of the youngest members of the Bar to be appointed.  He has successfully prosecuted the Soho Nail Bomber, David Copeland, for wounding with intent to cause GBH during the course of his six life sentences.

For the last three years, Chris’s prosecution work has focused on the heavyweight prosecution of criminal gangs, including Operation Holms from July 2018 to January 2019, in which 6 gang members were 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, severing his arm.

Chris’s defends and prosecutes rape and serious sexual offences, particularly those affecting children; high-value frauds and POCA offences, often money-laundering following the prosecution of significant drugs groups.  Equally, Chris has significant experience in defending members of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces in Courts Martial.

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

Read More

Court of Appeal

Attempted Murder; successful Appeal Against Sentence

R v W [2018] EWCA Crim.  W charged with attempted murder.  Plea offered to s.18 at PTPH.  Stridently rejected by the Crown.  Chris drafted a number of written representations; in the month before the trial, the Crown accepted the lesser plea.  At sentence, the trial judge imposed a Category 1 sentence (allowing for full credit) of 8 years extended by 3 years, finding W dangerous (inferred background of gang activity from information in the PSR).  W could not be released from prison before the end of the 8 year tariff without the approval of the Parole Board.   In the Appeal, Chris forcefully argued that the facts did not 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. The sentencing judge should have exercised his discretion.  The Court of Appeal upheld the appeal on those grounds, substituting the extended sentence for a determinate sentence.  Chris’ client will therefore be released no later than 4 years after the date of sentence, less the time served on remand.

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 a conviction for sexual assault by penetration on a fellow Naval seaman.


Notable Cases

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

  • Operation Holms [2019] – GANG SHOOTINGS – Prosecuting, led by Michael Shaw and Barry McElduff (22 weeks). Third and fourth trials in a series of gang trials, shootings and stabbings.  Drug background. 6 convicted.  Involved skilled and rigorous analysis of 10,000s pages of phone and cell site evidence; complex bad character and hearsay applications: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-47653884
  • R v W [2018] – Defence – ATTEMPTED MURDER. Junior alone.  See above: R v W [2018] EWCA Crim.
  • R v AA [2018] – Defence – CLASS A DRUGS CONSPIRACY (10 handed).  London based network located, over “County Lines,” to Portsmouth.  Large-scale supply of crack and heroin.  The Prosecution’s said AA was a “trusted captain.” Substantially based on telephone evidence: 17 mobile phones.  Covert evidence. Guilty plea. Despite being an adult with relevant antecedents, following powerful mitigation he received a sentence of 16 months imprisonment.
  • Operation Ribon [2018] – GANG DRUG-DEALING.  OCG, £30k cash and kilogram of pure cocaine intercepted.  Covert evidence.  Street value above £200k.  5 successfully convicted, including a girlfriend of a central conspirator for transfer of criminal property, POCA.
  • R v W [2017] – Defence – KIDNAPPING (4 handed).  Acquitted.  Successful s. 78 application, exclude evidence of DNA on a large knife within the car used to perpetrate the kidnap.  Christopher was praised for his skilful and adaptable cross-examination of the complainant – who had palpably been kidnapped further to a drugs dispute – which led to the most sympathetic evidential position being achieved.  Others convicted.
  • Operation Kruse [2017] – GANG SHOOTINGS – Luton Crown Court.  Secured convictions of 10 armed gang involved in a series of reprisal shootings (five ‘extended sentences’).  Significant investigation into gang warfare in Bedford. Organised, commercial supply of Class A drugs.  Drive-by shooting with an automatic Skorpian machine-pistol.  Female shot in the arm.  HHJ Lithman QC: “reminiscent of 1920’s Chicago.”
  • R v C [2016] – FRAUD – Wood Green Crown Court.  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.  Concentrated analysis of forensic downloads of laptops.
  • R v H [2016] – Defence – SECTION 18 – Portsmouth Crown Court.  Client unanimously acquitted of section 18 wounding with intent.  CCTV – H had struck the complainant multiple times with a glass. Successful and detailed bad character application to admit the complainant’s violent convictions.  Successful self-defence/lack of intent. Cross examination of independent witnesses, police officers and hospital staff.
  • Operation Essence [2016] – CLASS A DRUGS CONSPIRACY.  3-handed prosecution.  All convicted.  Trident operation. Main defendant was ranked number 1 on the Metropolitan Police Gang’s matrix.  Undercover policing and covert evidence; expert cell site, phone and Sat Nav evidence.  Last defendant unfit to plead;  “trial of the act” within the jury trial.
  • R v M [2016] – FIREARMS.  Prosecuted defendant, former good character, possession of “antique” handgun, contrary to defence of having item as a “mere curiosity or ornament”. The revolver housed a modern Magnum round. Mandatory minimum 5 years imposed.
  • R v H [2016] – ARSON WITH INTENT TO ENDANGER LIFE – Central Criminal Court.  Basement flat of vulnerable couple set ablaze.  Fire and smoke destroyed interior.  Arson followed a lengthy chronology of anti-social and targeted behaviour.
  • R v C [2015] – SECTION 18 – Woolwich Crown Court.  Successfully prosecuted the “Soho Nail Bomber,” David Copeland, in a 7-day Newton hearing in respect of a pre-meditated prison assault on a fellow inmate: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34656052.  Complex sentencing submissions in respect of the proper approach where the defendant already faced six life sentences.  Consecutive sentence passed.  HHJ Dhir QC, “I was assisted as if by Silk.”
  • [2016] – MILITARY LAW: ARMY SERVICE COMPLAINT – Represented an Army Major and Regimental Medical Officer in a Service Complaint against the Army.  Failure by the Army under employment duties to an officer psychiatrically injured when serving a notorious tour of Afghanistan.  Army Headquarters, 2 days.

Rape and Serious Sexual Offences

  • R v Z [2017] – Defence – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE – Reading Crown Court.  Successfully defended a father, 3 counts of oral sex on 8-year old daughter.  Immediate break-up of the family. Successful section 41 application re 8 year old and prior sexual behaviour.  Bore on possibility allegations were fictitious and false.
  • R v K [2017] – RAPE – Brighton Crown Court. Prosecuted defendant for multiple rape of two biological daughters; a fact not accepted by the defendant. Offences in 1980s and 1990s. Defendant had married, fathered other grown-up children, living a purportedly law-abiding life as a taxi driver.  16 years imprisonment.
  • R v S, Court Martial [2016] – Defence – SEXUAL ASSAULT BY PENETRATION –Alleged conspiracy to commit sexual assault by three Seamen within a mess onboard a Royal Naval ship.  Lengthy written and legal representations for client.  Military conceded insufficient evidence.  Avoided potential 8 years sentence.  Entered military poor conduct charge (no sexual connotations).

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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