Church arch from below

Serious sexual offences

Furnival Chambers is dedicated to providing the finest quality of defence and prosecution of serious sexual offences. Members of chambers can demonstrate the requisite skills including: sensitivity in dealing with vulnerable witnesses (particularly children), incisiveness, brevity in presentation, and thoroughness, care and consideration in defending.

Chambers’ team is headed by Sally O’Neill QC, who has considerable expertise in serious sexual cases. As Chairman of the CBA in 2008 she organised the series of training lectures with the NSPCC including regarding the latest legislation on intermediaries and a video on special measures for vulnerable witnesses. Sally was a consultee during the development of the Memorandum of Good Practice for the interviewing of child witnesses.

Members of Chambers will provide timely advice to a high standard, both to investigators, and to solicitors on lines of enquiry to pursue in preparing the defence. This will be given against the background of the complexities of the seventy new offences created by the 2003 Act, and the various codes of practice, including the Victims Code issued under s32 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act, the “Standard for Communications between Victims, Witnesses and Prosecution Advocates”, and paragraph 6.1 of the Bar Code of Conduct.

Members of Chambers also have up-to-date knowledge of issues in expert evidence, the use of Intermediaries, the preparation of young and vulnerable witnesses for trial, and the preparation of summaries and edited versions of taped evidence so as to lighten the burden of trial whilst still dealing comprehensively with the essential issues in the trial.

The strength in depth of the team is illustrated by the fact that six members have been included on the CPS list of Specialist Rape Advocates. Prosecutors all have recent experience of leading multi-disciplinary teams in the preparation of Child Abuse cases, and each has been praised by Case lawyers for their sensitivity and professionalism.

All members of the team are available to defend, and have demonstrated ability to deal objectively and professionally with alleged and actual sex offenders, and have achieved some remarkable results at trial, after testing thoroughly mistaken and false allegations.

Members of our Chambers Team have defended and prosecuted in cases including;

  • Serial rapists – including the West End mini-cab rapist.
  • Historical rape and sexual abuse – including “Selwyn B” applications on abuse, the David Decoteau case, and Farooq Malik.
  • Sexual (and related non-sexual) abuse of children – “Baby P” case 2008, the Sarah Payne abduction and murder.
  • Gang rape – R v S (2007) gang rape of woman proved by DNA on a skirt.
  • Cases involving multiple complainants and breach of trust – including sexual abuse by a London Borough Mayor.
  • Cold cases, including the prosecution of Nicholas Keall, a 25 year old historic rape detected by a recent hit on the national DNA database.
  • Complex S.41 YJCE Act arguments.
  • Cross-examination via intermediaries.
  • Detailed examination and challenge of DNA cases. In the Southwark Rapist case this involved revisiting the entire debate raised in the Omagh case of LCN/LTDNA.