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Denise Breen-Lawton - Year of call: 2000

A highly experienced trial lawyer and top Criminal law, Fraud and Family barrister.  Consistently and highly rated by the Legal 500.   A mixed practice allows her to draw on experience from several jurisdictions to her advantage when dealing with clients involved in multiple proceedings.

CPS Panel Advocate Grade 4

Serious Crime group Panel Grade 4

CPS Panel Advocate Grade 4 including Rape Panel. North Eastern Circuit

Professional Endorsements:

  • Legal 500 Entry 2017: "An intellectually astute barrister, who commands the court." 
  • Legal 500 Entry 2016: "She combines approachability with a fearless attitude and determination to achieve results."
  • Legal 500 Entry 2015: "Her commitment and meticulous preparation make her a fearless opponent"
  • Legal 500 Entry 2013: "Communicates well, and is always superbly organised"
  • Legal 500 Entry 2012: "Extremely efficient"
  • Legal 500 Entry 2011: "is a delight to work with, thorough, charming and, when necessary, spiky."
  • Legal 500 Entry 2010: “shows her mettle in tough cases”
  • Legal 500 Entry 2009: “extremely organised and tough in difficult circumstances
  • Legal 500 Entry 2008: “Has massive potential”
  • Legal 500 Entry 2007: “A dedicated and thorough Junior

Skills:

  • Extremely organised with the ability to manage and distil large amounts of information and documents
  • Concise and clear advocacy in Court
  • Good negotiation skills
  • Thorough, with attention to detail
  • Particular strengths: cross-examination, closing submissions and mitigation
  • Good with difficult clients, particularly in emotionally distressing cases
  • Financial/Business skills and experience

A highly experienced trial lawyer and top Criminal law, Fraud and Family barrister. Consistently and highly rated by the Legal 500. A mixed practice allows her to draw on experience from several jurisdictions to her advantage when dealing with clients involved in multiple proceedings.

An ability to get grips with large volumes of material very quickly and exceptional organisational skills mean a serious and heavyweight practice developed early on and continues to do so.

Excellent advocacy and client care skills mean she is able to deal with all types of clients, from the most vulnerable to the most robust, in the most serious and difficult cases. Has an ability to present or challenge expert evidence in all disciplines in a clear and effective manner.

General Crime

An experienced criminal trial lawyer. Has appeared at the Court of Appeal on numerous occasions, alone and Led, including defending an Attorney General's Reference on sentence, Defence appeals against sentence and appeals against conviction.

Op Yates (2013)

Prosecution of 9 defendants, represented by 12 counsel, including silks, lasting 10 weeks.  Exceptionally complex and sophisticated offences of importing over £8 million worth of class A drugs through the postal system into the UK. 

The defendants utilised over sixty mobiles telephones between them, contesting attribution of money. A complicated web of evidence to present to the jury in a sensible format including, telephone attribution, call patterns, cell site evidence, covert surveillance, and mass spec analysis. 

The main defendants were convicted by the jury and are now serving over 110 years between them.

Op Clarity (2013)

Prosecution as leading junior of multiple armed robberies upon bookmakers by three defendants. The evidence consisted of complex telephone data and the cell site evidence coupled with incriminating items seized such as clothing and firearms. 

The main defendant received a sentence of 15 years on a guilty plea and the other two defendants received substantial periods in custody.

Op Catorze (2012)

Instructed by the CPS Counter Terrorism Unit  to appear at the Old Bailey to prosecute three young Kurdish women accused of petrol bombing a Turkish club in North London in revenge for an airstrike by the Turkish air force that killed over 30 Kurds in December 2011.

The defendants all pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to the endangering of life. The two older defendants were sentenced to 6 years 8 months imprisonment. The third, younger defendant received 6 years YOI.

Successfully argued against three Silks that the offence should be regarded as aggravated by both the defendants’ political motivations (which included expressions of support for the proscribed PKK) and racial motivation given that the club was selected for attack because it was Turkish.

Op Tartare (2008-2012)

Prosecution of three defendants in a long running prosecution brought by the CPS Complex Casework unit following joint investigations by the West Yorkshire Police and the City of Stoke Trading Standards Unit.

The most serious offence was a sophisticated and complex conspiracy to handle over £400,000 worth of vehicles stolen in Hanoi burglaries. The vehicles were given false identities supported by faked documentation. Many of them were then shipped to Japan where they were sold at auction. Others were sold to innocent purchasers or retained by the defendants. Two of the defendants also admitted a conspiracy to defraud which involved purchasing high mileage vehicles, "clocking" them and forging MOT certificates and service histories to support the false mileages before selling them via eBay and other web sites.

The case was complicated by the decision of the third defendant to reveal that he had been a police informant. He unsuccessfully applied to stay the indictment asserting that he had been authorised to participate / promised he would not be prosecuted. When that failed he ran duress claiming that he had been threatened by his co-accused. He was convicted and received 9 years imprisonment. The two other defendants pleaded guilty to both offences and received prison sentences of 6 ½ years and 4 years 9 months.

Operation Stet

Prosecution of multi million pound drugs importation conspiracy. Two part prosecution of 16 defendants, now serving over 100 years in prison in total. Complex areas of international disclosure, Dutch wire taps, cell site analysis, telephone and covert observation evidence.

R-v-F

Defence of a man charged with historic sexual abuse over many years taken on short notice. The evidence covered many years and was extremely complex and emotionally harrowing.  He had abused many female members of his family over many years to varying degrees and the case required a balance of delicate and sensitive but robust cross-examination.

R-v-W

Prosecution of a woman who had failed to get medical attention for a young baby that had been shaken. Complex medical evidence and disclosure issues between the family and criminal courts.

R-v-M

Prosecution of defendant in his 80's for offences of historic sexual abuse on a child. An emotionally distressing and difficult case.  An emotionally distressing case where the family had been torn apart by the offences coming to light.

R-v-M&S

Prosecution of a couple charged with assault and neglect where the child had been struck by a belt.  The child had clear belt loop marks on his body after being struck and beaten by his step-father.

R-v-W

Prosecution of a defendant before a High Court Judge for assaulting a 2 year old. Exceptionally complex medical evidence presented by the calling the most senitr paediatrition in Yorkshire.  The child had delayed speech and language difficulties and so the case was built upon medical evidence and the surrounding circumstances as the child was unable to tell anyone what had happened.

R v. Sheppard and Whittle [2010] EWCA Crim 65

Instructed by the Counter Terrorism Unit to prosecute an extremely complex case of racial hatred against Jewish, Black, Asian and other people. Several complicated and difficult legal arguments undertaken such as jurisdiction of the court, definition of ‘publication’ on the internet, definition of ‘written’ words, and the admissibility of the truth or otherwise of Holocaust material, and a defence ‘expert’ report on the Holocaust. Complex expert evidence was also called regarding whether Jews are an ethnic group or a religion for the purposes of the Public Order Act. Appeared in the Court of Appeal on numerous legal issues in the appeal against conviction. This is now a leading case on the issue of internet jurisdiction.

R v. Panesar [2008] EWCA Crim 1643

Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs. Defence of one of ten defendants. Complicated confiscation proceedings followed. Appeared at the Court of Appeal against a confiscation order, on the ‘Moulden’ point, of payments into the defendant’s mortgage account from unlawful funds.

R v McShane and Others [2011] EWCA Crim 1944 [2011] WL
2748062

Prosecution taken on at short notice of four defendants, and twelve Armed Robberies of bookmakers. Complex expert evidence in the areas of image analysis and comparison, footwear analysis and DNA. Won at the Court of Appeal on appeal against conviction on various points including the parameters of expert evidence that are admissible where no statistical data is available.

Operation Hanoi

Successful Prosecution of eight defendants for conspiring to Burgle over a lengthy period of time, covering many geographical areas and offences.

R v. Long

Defended as Junior in Murder only a few months after completing Pupillage.

R v. Hopkins

Defended in conspiracy to commit armed Robbery of Post Offices and Banks.

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Barrister Photo
Denise Breen-Lawton
Year of call: 2000

A highly experienced trial lawyer for Serious Crime and Fraud.  Consistently and highly rated by the Legal 500.   A mixed practice allows her to draw on experience from several jurisdictions to her advantage when dealing with clients involved in multiple proceedings.

Professional Endorsements

Legal 500 Entries:

2019: "Her practice includes white-collar crime and fraud"

2018: "An intellectually astute barrister, who commands the court." 

2017: "She combines approachability with a fearless attitude and determination to achieve results."

2016: "Her commitment and meticulous preparation make her a fearless opponent"

2015: "Assertive, thorough, and her attention to detail is second to none"

2014: "Communicates well, and is always superbly organised"

2013: "Extremely efficient"

2012: "is a delight to work with, thorough, charming and, when necessary, spiky"

2011: “shows her mettle in tough cases

2010: “extremely organised and tough in difficult circumstances”

2009: “Has massive potential

2008: “A dedicated and thorough junior

 

Skills

Extremely organised, with the ability to distil and manage large amounts of information and documents rapidly


An ability to get grips with large volumes of material very quickly and exceptional organisational skills mean a serious and heavyweight practice developed early on and has continued.

Excellent advocacy and client care skills mean she is able to deal with all types of clients, from the most vulnerable to the most robust, in the most serious and difficult cases. Has an ability to present or challenge expert evidence in all disciplines in a clear and effective manner.

Experience in the Business Crime Department at Irwin Mitchell and a First Class Degree in Business Management before coming to the Bar, provides particular strengths in large and complex Fraud cases.

 

Crime

A very experienced criminal trial lawyer. Has appeared at the Court of Appeal on numerous occasions, alone and Led, including defending an Attorney General's Reference on sentence, Defence appeals against sentence and appeals against conviction. 

R v S

Prosecution of a prisoner (one of the eight most dangerous men in the prison system) for two attacks on prison officers. Complex and highly sensitive case of public interest regarding internal procedures and protocols at the prison. The case was further complicated by the defendant running a psychiatric defence.

R v P

Defence of a young woman charged with perverting the course of justice by falsely accusing a taxi driver of sexually assaulting her.  An extremely sensitive case which attracted national press attention.

R v S

Defence of a woman accused of harming her own child and having Munchausen by Proxy. Complex and voluminous medical evidence.  The Prosecution were forced to drop the case at trial because of the deficiencies in the detail of their medical evidence.

R v R

Defending the first defendant in a multi-handed case. Hotly contested, complicated and highly unusual case of money laundering which involved ‘sheep rustling’ in the farming community. The press followed the case closely.

R v W

Prosecution of a section 28 pilot case regarding pre-recorded cross-examination. A youth charged with sexual offences against his brother which who had a rare condition which led to developmental difficulties.

R v C

Defence in large scale drugs conspiracy of ten defendants. Complex timelines, telephone and financial evidence to challenge.

R v A and A

Prosecution of two men charged with shooting in a nightclub, in the context of a murder less than an hour later.

R v J

Prosecution of a man charged with sexually abusing a little girl who was eight years old at trial. Careful and skilful advocacy at pre-recorded cross-examination hearing to clarify legal and medical issues.

R v C

Defence of a man charged with two rapes which occurred within four weeks of one another. HMET prosecution with more than fifty clips of CCTV in a complex timeline. The press took a close interest in this highly sensitive and factually complex case. Defendant was acquitted.

R v S

Defence of a woman charged with a conspiracy to supply class A drugs. All based on phone schedules, timelines, observations, cell-site, photographs of money and texts. There was more than 10,000 pages of phone evidence. The defendant was acquitted in three minutes.

R v K

Prosecution of highly contested baby shaking case, with shifting accounts given by the defendant. Multi-disciplinary medical evidence and care proceedings in the background made this a complicated and difficult case.

Operation Yates

Prosecution of nine defendants, represented by twelve counsel, including silks, lasting ten weeks.  Exceptionally complex and sophisticated evidence of offences of importing over £8 million worth of Class A drugs through the postal system into the UK.  The defendants utilised over sixty mobiles telephones between them, contesting attribution. 

A complicated web of evidence to present to the jury in a sensible format including, telephone attribution, call patterns, cell site evidence, covert surveillance, and mass spec analysis. 

The main defendants were convicted by the jury and are now serving over a hundred and ten years between them.

Operation Clarity

Prosecution as Leading Junior of multiple armed robberies upon bookmakers by three defendants. 

The evidence consisted of complex telephone data and cell site evidence coupled with incriminating items seized such as clothing and firearms. 

The main defendant received a sentence of fifteen years on a guilty plea and the other two defendants received substantial periods in custody.

Operation Catorze

Instructed by the CPS Counter Terrorism Unit, to appear at the Old Bailey and prosecute three young Kurdish women accused of petrol bombing a Turkish club in North London in revenge for an airstrike by the Turkish air force that killed over thirty Kurds in December 2011.

The defendants all pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to the endangering of life. The two older defendants were sentenced to 6 years 8 months imprisonment. The third, younger defendant received 6 years.

Successfully argued against three Silks that the offence should be regarded as aggravated by both the defendants’ political motivations (which included expressions of support for the proscribed PKK) and racial motivation given that the club was selected for attack because it was Turkish.

Operation Tartare

Prosecution of three defendants in a long running prosecution brought by the CPS Complex Casework unit following joint investigations by the West Yorkshire Police and the City of Stoke Trading Standards Unit.

The most serious offence was a sophisticated and complex conspiracy to handle over £400,000 worth of vehicles stolen in Hanoi burglaries. The vehicles were given false identities supported by faked documentation. Many of them were then shipped to Japan where they were sold at auction. Others were sold to innocent purchasers or retained by the defendants. Two of the defendants also admitted a conspiracy to defraud which involved purchasing high mileage vehicles, "clocking" them and forging MOT certificates and service histories to support the false mileages before selling them via eBay and other web sites.

The case was complicated by the decision of the third defendant to unsuccessfully apply to stay the indictment asserting that he had been promised he would not be prosecuted. When that failed he ran duress claiming that he had been threatened by his co-accused. He was convicted and received 9 years imprisonment. The two other defendants pleaded guilty to both offences and received prison sentences of 6 ½ years and 4 years 9 months.

Operation Stet

Prosecution of multi million pound drugs importation conspiracy. Two-part prosecution of sixteen defendants, now serving over a hundred years in prison in total. Complex areas of international disclosure, Dutch wire taps, cell site analysis, telephone and covert observation evidence.

R v F

Defence of a man charged with historic sexual abuse over many years taken on short notice. The evidence covered many years and was extremely complex and emotionally harrowing.  He had abused many female members of his family over many years to varying degrees and the case required a balance of delicate and sensitive but robust cross-examination.

R v W

Prosecution of a woman who had failed to get medical attention for a young baby that had been shaken. Complex medical evidence and disclosure issues between the family and criminal courts.

R v M

Prosecution of defendant in his eighties for offences of historic sexual abuse on a child. An emotionally distressing and difficult case.  An emotionally distressing case where the family had been torn apart by the offences coming to light.

R v M&S

Prosecution of a couple charged with assault and neglect where the child had been struck by a belt.  The child had clear belt loop marks on his body after being struck and beaten by his step-father.

R-v W

Prosecution of a defendant before a High Court Judge for physically assaulting a two-year old. Exceptionally complex medical evidence presented by calling the most senior paediatrician in Yorkshire.  The child had delayed speech and language difficulties and so the case was built upon medical evidence and the surrounding circumstances as the child was unable to tell anyone what had happened.

R v. Sheppard and Whittle [2010] EWCA Crim 65

Instructed by the Counter Terrorism Unit to prosecute an extremely complex case of racial hatred against Jewish, Black, Asian and other people. Several complicated and difficult legal arguments undertaken such as jurisdiction of the court, definition of ‘publication’ on the internet, definition of ‘written’ words, and the admissibility of the truth or otherwise of Holocaust material, and a defence ‘expert’ report on the Holocaust. Complex expert evidence was also called regarding whether Jews are an ethnic group or a religion for the purposes of the Public Order Act. Appeared in the Court of Appeal on numerous legal issues in the appeal against conviction. This is now a leading case on the issue of internet jurisdiction.

R v. Panesar [2008] EWCA Crim 1643

Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs. Defence of one of ten defendants. Complicated confiscation proceedings followed. Appeared at the Court of Appeal against a confiscation order, on the ‘Moulden’ point, of payments into the defendant’s mortgage account from unlawful funds.

R v McShane and Others [2011] EWCA Crim 1944 [2011] WL 2748062

Prosecution taken on at short notice of four defendants, and twelve Armed Robberies of bookmakers. Complex expert evidence in the areas of image analysis and comparison, footwear analysis and DNA. Won at the Court of Appeal on appeal against conviction on various points including the parameters of expert evidence that are admissible where no statistical data is available.

Operation Hanoi

Successful Prosecution of eight defendants for conspiring to Burgle over a lengthy period of time, covering many geographical areas and offences.

R v. Long

Defended as Junior in Murder only a few months after completing Pupillage.

 

Fraud Experience

An extremely experienced Fraud lawyer, both for the Defence and Prosecution. Has all of the skills required to take large amounts of documents and distil the relevant evidence into useable formats in order to effectively manage, and present to the jury, hugely complex and cumbersome cases.

Provides legal advice and representation on all aspects of Fraud, including money laundering cases, mortgage and loan fraud, Ebay scams, carousel fraud and advance-fee fraud.

Trading Standards Fraud Prosecutions

Instructed to prosecute numerous copycat websites for fraud over a period of three years. Highly complex evidence running to tens of thousands of pages.  All trials multi-handed meaning further layers of complexity. 

Operations R and H

Prosecution as leading Junior in a complex fraud involving seven defendants whereby they targeted elderly and vulnerable people pretending to be Police Officers, in order to con them out of their life savings. Two telephone analysts were involved in the analysis and presentation of over sixty telephones, with over a hundred offences spread over almost a year. This had to be presented to the jury in a clear and concise manner, so they understood. The defendants are now serving lengthy sentences of imprisonment.

R v D

Defence of a woman charged with money laundering in the context of a complex multi-handed drugs conspiracy. Persuaded the Prosecution to drop the case against her eventually.

Operation Epworth

Prosecution of six defendants without a junior. Complex and sophisticated fraud committed by a bank employee who compromised a customer's personal information in order to drain £150,000 from their accounts and then dissipate the money into forty recipient accounts. All defendants ultimately pleaded guilty.

R v O

Defended in eight-handed, complex, money laundering of the proceeds of drug dealing. The drugs had a street value of £7 Million. The conspiracy covered a three year period and the evidence included police observations, property deals in Bulgaria, bank transfers, property deals in the UK, property deals in Dubai, blackmail, the purchase of premium cars, land transactions, business purchases in the UK, and perverting the course of justice by falsifying documents.

R v Z

Defended in a Complex Inland Revenue and Customs Prosecution covering four businesses, over a period of six years. Extremely complicated and intricate confiscation proceedings followed.

Operation Darnley

Prosecuted a half million pound bank fraud which was highly complex due to computer evidence, volume of paper recovered and sophistication of methods used by bank employee and his associates. Successfully represented the Chief Constable on civil confiscation that followed.

R v H

Defence of an accountant charged with conspiring with others to defraud Customs & Excise of over £6.5 million in VAT. Successfully argued that the Indictment be quashed due to complex case law in the area of Carousel and Missing Trader Frauds.

R v S

Benefit Fraud listed for three months at Leeds Crown Court. Successfully argued that the Indictment be stayed as an abuse of process.

R v W

Defended complex Ebay fraud, mortgage and loan fraud. Defendant was acquitted of the main indictment after trial by jury.

 

Private / Insurance-funded Client

 

Lecturing and Training Experience