John Kearney

John Kearney

Call: 1994


Instructed as leading counsel for the defence in all areas of crime at first instance and appellate level, including terrorism, drug trafficking, fraud, money laundering, sex trafficking, serious offences of violence and sexual abuse. He has successfully appeared in the Court of Appeal on specific areas of law relating to disclosure, use of informants, ‘no comment’ interviews and perverting the course of justice.

John has a reputation for hard work and a complete application to cases in which instructed. He has an excellent knowledge of police procedure and excels in such cases. He has a background suited to serious crime allegations and specialises in cases relating to analysis of phone data, complex fraud and serious violence.


R v B (2024) Leading counsel in a counsel involving allegations of three counts of attempted murder and associated offences.

R v M (2023) Successfully represented a son charged with the attempted murder of his father

R v Burnikell (2022) successfully represented a woman charged with the attempted murder of her husband.

R v Hunye (2019)  Leading counsel in an attempted murder by a male defendant on his female partner by multiple stabbing. The central issue in the case turned on the defence of insane automatism. The Prosecution appealed against the sentence which was successfully defended on appeal.

R v Morgan & others – Represented the main defendant in a three-handed murder by shooting and associated firearms charges.

R v Charlery – Leading counsel in a manslaughter by defenestration allegation brought by the prosecution after conclusions drawn from the coroner’s inquest. Defendant acquitted after trial.

R v Samuel – Shotgun murder in the Midlands. Defendant extradited from Nigeria.

R v Lynch & others – A multi-handed murder arising out of violence between two large gangs in the Luton area and a death by stabbing.

R v Fury & others – Attempted murder, armed robbery and cocaine drugs conspiracy case. Represented one of six defendants.
one of six defendants


R v N & others (2023) Represented the main defendant in a multimillion pound banking fraud operated by professional criminals.

R v Faithfull (2022)  This was an FCA prosecution of the defendant indicted in relation to a multi-national, money laundering operation dealing with boiler room fraud based in a number of countries across Europe and in the USA.

R v Brooks & others – Leading counsel representing one of four defendants charged with the largest Department of Work & Pensions fraud conspiracy on record. Acquitted after trial.

R v Spiropoulos & others – Leading junior representing a solicitor in a multi-handed housing property fraud conspiracy involving the purchase and sales of a number of properties to the value of some £2 million.

R v Dembacaj & others – Successfully represented one of seven defendants charged with a conspiracy to commit Proceeds of Crime Act offences.

R v Kremlacek & others – A multi-handed case of money laundering by Czech nationals.

R v Lycewycz & others – Successfully defended one of six defendants indicted on a large-scale, trading standards conspiracy to defraud.

R v Dos Santos & others. Multi-handed fraud against banking institutions. Acquitted after a two-month trial.

R v Nadim Khan & others. Further, multi handed trading standards fraud. Acquitted after a six-week trial.


John is a specialist in offences related to terrorism. He has previously represented the Islamic preacher Abu Hamsa, prior to his extradition to the USA, and also successfully represented Abdelbarry Abubaker, prior to him being extradited to the USA and prosecuted for international terrorism offences.

John has also been instructed in relation to a number of offences in relation to terrorism separately associated to Syria, Iraq and the Philippines.

R v Counsell (2017) Leading counsel in this prosecution of the first British National indicted with terrorism offences related to the terrorist organisation Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.

R v C (2016)  Defended one of three defendants accused of a variety of offences with regard to ISIS affiliation.

R v Alwerfeli – Successfully represented one of the nine defendants charged with conspiracy to commit murder and acts of terrorism in connection with the ‘ricin’ poison plot which received considerable media attention.


John has considerable experience in dealing with a variety of drugs cases involving importation, distribution, county lines operation and modern slavery defences. He is meticulous in examining mobile phone and encrochat data.

R v O (2023) A substantial drugs conspiracy with the instruction of defence drugs experts and phone analysis experts.

R v Rossi (2022) A case involving encrochat phone evidence regarding cocaine and cannabis supply.

R v Beeton & others (2018 – 2020) Leading counsel in a multi-handed cocaine supply operation which extended over three trials. The case required extensive analysis of mobile phone and encrochat phone evidence.

R v F (2019) Successfully defended a defendant indicted in a conspiracy to supply large quantities of cocaine. The defendant was acquitted through the analysis and interpretation of the phone data in the case.

R v D (2018) Represented a defendant in a County lines drugs conspiracy based in Hampshire.
R v B & others (2017)  Defended the main defendant indicted in a Class A drugs conspiracy based in the West Midlands

R v Wright & another – Represented the lead defendant in a £4 million drugs conspiracy involving the running of several cannabis factories. The press linked the case to the facts of the Breaking Bad television series (here).

R v McDonald & others – successfully represented the main defendant in a case concerning the largest seizure of drugs on record by the West Midlands police. Over £9 million worth of drugs.

R v Johnson & others – Leading counsel in a multi-handed heroin and cocaine conspiracy in Newcastle. This was a six-month police operation which was undermined after an extensive analysis of the surveillance evidence and cross-examination of police officers involved resulting in the defendant’s acquittal.

R v Avazi & others – Leading counsel in a multi-handed importation of 150 kilos of opium into the United Kingdom from Iran.

R v Droy & others – Acted in a multi-handed conspiracy to supply vast quantities of a variety of class ‘A’ drugs.

R v Demerkaya & others – A conspiracy to supply large quantities of heroin involving the deployment of undercover police in an operation targeting the drug trade from Turkey to the United Kingdom

R v Raza & others – A three-handed conspiracy to supply heroin stretching the length of England, the central issue of which was the entrapment by undercover police in a long-term operation. Case dropped after applications made by John for a specific item of disclosure from the prosecution.

Serious Violence

R v Bhambra & others (2023) Successfully represented a defendant charged with a conspiracy to commit armed robbery at a DPD depot. News story here.

R v W (2023) Successfully represented a defendant indicted with two s.18 grievous bodily harm counts and associated offences.

R v Johnson (2023) successfully represented the main defendant on a conspiracy to rob and crypto currency fraud allegations.

R v Williams (2023) Successfully represented a defendant charged with the robbery of a watch worth £1 million from a Formula One driver. DNA evidence was crucial to the prosecution case. News story here.

R v Spooner & others – Acted for the first defendant indicted in a multi-handed case involving drugs conspiracy, kidnap, torture and firearms offences.

R v May & others – Acted for one of the defendants in a multi-handed torture case facing allegations of blackmail, kidnap and serious violence.

R v Collins & others – Successfully represented one of three defendants facing cash-in-transit robbery charges. Conviction overturned and defendant acquitted at re-trial.

R v Dennis & others – Leading counsel representing the principal defendant in a multi-handed trial of the gang associates of those convicted of the murder of a solicitor in North London. This defendant faced several individual counts of serious violence and a conspiracy alleging commission of numerous robberies on the tube network.

R v McClelland & others – Represented four defendants charged with a series of armed robberies at commercial premises across the Midlands. A central issue in the case was the admissibility of covertly recorded conversations in the police cells.

R v Goss & others – Conviction overturned on the grounds of improper direction given regarding a ‘no comment’ interview.


R v Muswere – Defended the first person prosecuted in the United Kingdom for making a firearm using a 3D printer

R v Olali – Conviction for possession of a firearm, silencer and ammunition overturned on appeal due to improper direction to the jury regarding scientific evidence and use to be made of defence case statement.

Sexual Offences

R v W (2023) Successfully represented a young defendant alleged to have raped his girlfriend.

R v J (2023) Successfully represented a defendant charged with the rape of a female friend on a night out.

R v H (2023) Successfully represented a defendant charged with historic sexual abuse.

R v DJ (2023) Successfully represented a defendant charged with a number of sexual offences on a family member.

R v Atesogullari & others – Acted for one of a number of defendants charged with offences of ‘sex trafficking’ from Eastern Europe by an organised, international gang.

R v Drew & others – Successfully represented one of the family which ran the ‘Silk & Lace’ escort agency, regarded as the largest escort agency in the country, facing charges relating to the control of prostitution.


Football, golf, music, film and travel.

Professional memberships

  • Criminal Bar Association