Estelle Thornber

Estelle Thornber

Call: 2012


Estelle has developed a strong criminal defence practice and is instructed in serious and complex matters including murder, rape, large-scale drug conspiracies and multi-million-pound money laundering cases. She is meticulous in her case preparation and provides an outstanding level of dedication and commitment to every case.

Estelle is currently instructed to defend in cases which include: a matter concerning the rape of several young children, a case involving the supply of over 300 kilos of Cocaine and a matter involving a care worker accused of engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder.

Estelle’s sharp and effective style in the courtroom is complemented by her compassionate and approachable manner with her clients in conference. Estelle’s eye for detail and her ability to capture the attention of the jury allows her to consistently secure outstanding results for her clients. Recent cases of note and reported cases are outlined below.

Alongside her busy court practice, Estelle assisted the Financial Conduct Authority between 2019 – 2021; she was part of a lengthy investigation which focused on serious deficiencies within a major bank’s transaction monitoring systems. Estelle remained on the project until its successful conclusion.

Reported Cases

R v Cyrille (Taison) [2021] EWCA Crim 1755 – Estelle was led by Tahir Khan KC; this authority provides useful further guidance on the circumstances under which obvious and viable alternative Counts ought to be left to a jury.

Regina v Yaryare and Others [2020] EWCA Crim 1314 – Estelle was led by Colin Witcher of Chambers in this Appeal before the Vice President concerning the admissibility and limitations of Police evidence in the context of Identification and Recognition of Defendants. The case now features in the Criminal Law Review and also appears in the Crown Court Compendium as a decisive authority on issues relating to Attacks on the Character of Witnesses under the s.101(1)(g) CJA 2003 Bad Character Provisions.

Regina v Kay Strugnall [2018] EWCA Crim 2895 – Estelle appeared on behalf of the defendant at the initial Sentencing Hearing in the Crown Court and the subsequent Attorney General’s Reference Hearing at the Court of Appeal in November 2018. This Judgment highlights the restrictions on the imposition of Drug Rehabilitation Requirements attached to Community Orders in place of ‘short to moderate’ custodial sentences.

Andrew Randell v DPP [2018] EWHC 1048 (Admin) – Estelle successfully stated a case for the Opinion of the High Court following the outcome of a Magistrates’ Court trial. The client’s convictions for Arson and Theft were subsequently quashed at the High Court and no re-trial was ordered; this case reaffirmed the principle that a witness’ best evidence is given live, where it can be open to challenge. This case further confirmed that statutory provisions, not the Criminal Procedure Rules, determine the admissibility of Hearsay Evidence.

Recent Cases

R v SB (2023) NB was previously convicted of death by dangerous driving and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment. His vehicle collided with a family including 2 young children and their pregnant mother, who died at the scene. They were waiting at a bus stop on the pavement. Others suffered serious injuries.  During the most recent proceedings, Estelle represented N’s mother, SB; she was accused of removing Class A drugs from the vehicle at the scene whilst the victims lay dying. SB was further accused of concealing important evidence from the Police which demonstrated her son’s cocaine habit. She received a suspended sentence. News story here

R v CN (2023) The defendant was 15 when he was accused of rape. This was an unusual case: the rape allegedly took place whilst the complainant (17) was performing consensual oral sex on her boyfriend (16). They both gave evidence asserting that the defendant had ‘crept up’ on them and entered the complainant from behind, without her consent. The defence was that a ‘consensual threesome’ had occurred.

R v RC (2023) RC faced an indictment containing 26 counts relating to the rape and sexual assault (historic and recent) of 5 children aged between 4-12 years old. He was previously a teacher in the Bromley area. Some of the offending took place outside of the jurisdiction. Acceptable pleas were offered to the Crown and a complex sentencing hearing followed, lasting 2 days. RC was sentenced to imprisonment for life, with a minimum tariff of 12 years. News story here

R v NW (2023) Woolwich Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted of multiple counts of rape following a 10-day trial.

R v JS (2023) Harrow Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted following a one-week trial. The Defendant faced two Counts on an Indictment, namely; arson with intent to endanger life and an alternative Count of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered. The matter arose following a fire which caused extensive damage to a family home in North-West London.

R v JB (2022) Southwark Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted of False Imprisonment and s.18 GBH following trial.

R v KF (2022) Woolwich Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted following a one-week trial; this was an armed robbery case where the Defendant denied presence; £21,000 was stolen and recovered at the Defendant’s home within half-an-hour of the robbery. The incident was captured on camera with sound. Estelle made a successful s.78 Application to exclude evidence of the Crown’s Voice Recognition Expert. She cross-examined three police officers on the basis that their Identification was flawed and contaminated.

R v SPL and Others (2022) Central Criminal Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted following a 6-week trial. Estelle was led by a KC; the Defendant was accused of Assisting an Offender in a Conspiracy to Murder. The trial involved a serious gang related stabbing in Brixton. The Defendant was initially charged with Conspiracy to Murder; her DNA was found on a weapon at the scene which also contained the blood of the victim.

R v AA (2022) Inner London Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted following a 12-day trial. Estelle’s client was a television news correspondent and faced allegations spanning over a 3-year period of child cruelty, threats to kill and coercive and controlling behaviour.

R v DC (2022) Southwark Crown Court: Estelle’s client was acquitted of charges against his ex-partner, including threats to kill.

R v TN (2022) Luton Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted of causing serious injury by dangerous driving following a 5-day trial. The jury were shown CCTV footage of the collision; the Defendant’s vehicle drove over the speed limit and through a red light, causing a head-on collision with another vehicle and serious injury to her front-seat passenger. Estelle successfully ran the defence of duress of circumstances.

R v HR (2021) Reading Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted of rape following a 6-day trial. The Defendant was an elderly male accused of historic rape of a 14-year-old child.

R v NM (2021) Snaresbrook Crown Court: Estelle’s client was unanimously acquitted in this multi-handed Fraud arising from a sophisticated hacking operation of a Private School Fees database; the trial lasted 3 weeks.

R v TC and Others (2020-21) Oxford Crown Court: Estelle was led in this Murder, s.18 GBH and Class A Drugs Supply Conspiracy trial, defending a 19-year-old male. The trial lasted 6 weeks and involved cut-throat defences and extensive DNA and blood pattern analysis evidence. Estelle was also led during the Appeal which is published and marks an important decision regarding alternative Counts: R v Taison Cyrille [2021] EWCA Crim 1755.

R v YO and Others (2018 & 2020) Leicester Crown Court: Estelle was led in this multi-handed (10 Defendants) Violent Disorder Case, which ultimately culminated in an Attempted Murder. The trial lasted 9 weeks; I was also led during the Appeal (Regina v Yaryare and Others [2020] EWCA Crim 1314) which features in the Criminal Law Review and the Crown Court Compendium as an important authority on Character evidence.

Education & Awards

BPP Leeds: BPTC – Very Competent
Newcastle University: LLB – 2.1
ADR Accredited Civil and Commercial Mediator
The Honourable Society of the Inner Temple Otto & Sadie Rix Prize 2016


Modern Hebrew (Fluent)
French (Basic)