Lefi is an experienced leading junior barrister with an exclusive defence based practice. She has been extensively instructed to defend in a broad spectrum of cases involving serious crime.
Lefi has a particular interest and expertise in financial crime. She is regularly instructed to defend in varied and diverse fraud cases ranging from banking, mortgage, boiler room fraud (shares & rare diamonds), MTIC carousels, advance fee fraud, tax and VAT fraud, insider dealing and money laundering.
Lefi is currently instructed to defend in the case of R v Rasool in Operation Banjax, a complex diversion fraud. The allegation is that Mr Rasool is a lead figure in an organised crime group and is responsible together with others for significant losses to the Exchequer through associated large scale VAT and excise duty frauds. According to HMRC the figure attributable to laundering the proceeds of these crimes is in excess of £100 million. For details of recent cases of instruction, see the “Notable Cases” section.
Lefi has the ability to work efficiently through substantial volumes of evidence and has a keen forensic mind when distilling the issues of relevance concerning her client’s case always seeking ways in which to to break down the opposing evidence.
Lefi has an extensive track record and has been instructed in a large number of intricate and high profile murder cases. She has expertise in dealing with joint enterprise issues and vulnerable defendants and witnesses.
Lefi represented the main defendant in the case of R v Nasri. This case involved a number of defendants who were involved in the alleged contract killing arranged by Mr Nasri on his wife, Nisha, a Metropolitan Special Constable. The killing was arranged in order to claim life insurance and allow Mr Nasri to live with his new prostitute girlfriend. This murder was examined by Crimewatch and received substantial media coverage.
Another much publicised case in which Lefi appeared in was R v Johnston. This concerned the murder of Mr Amar who had suffered fatal head injuries after being assaulted in his home. Mr Amar, whilst still alive, was buried in a one ton gravel sack and covered in sand and then placed in a van and removed from the scene. The police happened to stop the van and spoke to the driver and two passengers, who were his sons, by the roadside – one of whom was Mr Johnson. It took approximately 45 minutes before the police realised there was a dying man in a bag in the back of the van. For details of other murder cases of instruction, see the “ Notable Cases section”
Lefi has appeared in numerous rape and sexual assault cases involving both vulnerable defendants and witnesses. These cases range from stranger rape, date rape, gang rape and historical sex abuse. In R v James Price Lefi successfully secured the acquittal of an elderly man with low IQ charged with multiple rapes.
Other areas of expertise include serious drug trials involving substantial kilo seizures of class A and B drugs and cases of firearms with intent to endanger life. In R v Kabangele Lefi secured the acquittal of a lady who was in possession of a number of firearms and was running the complicated and difficult defence of duress.
Lefi has been described by those who have worked closely with her as a “real fighter” and a competitive opponent with excellent judgement. She has the ability to communicate effectively and sympathetically with clients from all backgrounds and a reputation for hard work and meticulous preparation.
Lefi always maintains an excellent relationship with both her professional and lay clients and is seriously committed to the defence of all of her clients.
- Notable Cases of Fraud
R v WILLIAM CANNING Lefi was instructed as Leading Junior
VAT fraud concerning alcohol smuggling on a commercial scale with a loss of duty in excess of £1.951million. Mr Canning was allegedly the main organiser and Lieutenant of the operation. The Crown’s case was that this was a highly sophisticated operation concerning eight defendants who were organised by Mr Canning who appeared second on the indictment together with the ‘money man’ who was first on the indictment. Following the first defendant giving evidence a “cut throat” begun between the first two defendants resulting in the first defendant being convicted of nine counts and Mr Canning being acquitted of seven counts.
R v MOHHAMMED YUSUF Lefi was instructed as a Leading Junior
Money Laundering Fraud in excess of £37million over an eleven month period. The matter was complex involving multiple defendants and was heard at the Central Criminal Court. There were over 16,000 pages of Prosecution evidence. The case involved the set up of at least 20 ghost bank accounts where money was transferred. The source of the money ranged from drugs to very high value mandate frauds. This case concluded with Mr Yusuf being acquitted of all counts.
R v STEPHEN YAXLEY LENNON
Tax evasion concerning substantial quantities of monies deposited in various accounts over many years. Forensic accountants were deployed by both the prosecution and the defence. Mr Lennon contended that the monies were deposited as a direct result from his activities as the leader of ‘The English Defence League’ which he was leading and head of at the time. This was seen to be by many as an extremist organisation and the case required careful tactical analyses in its preparation.
R v DEMI CHARALAMBOUS Lefi was instructed as a Leading Junior
Conspiracy to defraud involving allegations of a series of representations being made to Barclays Bank plc by Mr Charalambous and his father in order to obtain monies to invest in properties. The Prosecution evidence sought to prove that Mr Charalambous lied to solicitors concerning the status of the deposit monies on the relevant properties. The value of this fraud was in excess of £2.9 Million. This matter was closely linked to two other matters concerning a £30m fraud.
R v MOHAMMED ALI Lefi was instructed as a Leading Junior
Trading Standards case concerning the malpractice of a group of letting agents. Mr Ali was the director of all the named companies and thus featured throughout the case. The allegations were that Mr Ali together with others traded through a number of Companies in such a way that they defrauded landlords and tenants who sought to let or rent properties. The case was both complex and voluminous with several schemes and their purported membership requiring careful analyses. Tactical and careful consideration was required due other defendants disclosure of prejudicial material affecting the defence of Mr Ali. Mr Ali was acquitted of the counts concerning the more substantial monetary losses.
- Notable Cases of Murder
R v SAUNDERS
This case concerned the organised gangland murder of Mr Shaxted in his council flat. The attack was particularly gruesome and took place in the bathroom. The men involved came to be known as the ‘Abbatoir’ gang of Northfleet.
R v PAUL BUSH
Mr Bush was part of a gang responsible for the ‘honour killing’ of a young Asian bride. The Crown alleged her much older husband and his son from a previous marriage organised a group of men to abduct, torture and kill her. Eventually the victim was wrapped in a carpet and burnt alive in secluded parkland.
R v DENNIS and R v DENNIS
Two brothers both tried for two different murders on separate occasions where firearms and shootings were involved. These cases required careful consideration of complex joint enterprise issues. Both were acquitted on the separate occasions they were tried.
R v LEONARD WILLSHER Lefi was instructed as a Leading Junior
Mr Willsher’s case begun as an Attempted Murder. Together with another he jumped into the victim’s lorry (delivery driver) and drove off whilst the victim was delivering a parcel. When the victim saw his lorry being stolen he chased after it in an attempt to stop the driver. He managed to step up onto the drivers side footstep and hold on to the drivers door. There ensued a struggle with the victim being pushed beneath the wheel of the large articulated lorry. He was run over twice. Given that the vehicle was a 7 ½ tonne double wheel rear axel lorry, the victim suffered significant and grave injuries which were at the time life threatening and subsequently life changing.
R v BRADLEY WEBB Lefi was instructed as a leading Junior
Mr Webb was charged with attempted murder having broken into the home of an elderly lady in the middle of the night whilst she was sleeping. He then proceeded to steal her jewellery. Mr Webb was armed with an axe and in his escape struck her in the head. The victim suffered extensive and significant life changing injuries. Mr Webb made full admissions when apprehended. The sentencing exercise in this case was complex due to Mr Webb’s psychiatric difficulties and mental illness.
- Other Notable Cases
R v JAMES CHRYSOSTOMOU Lefi was instructed as a Leading Junior
This case involved the supply of 7 kilos of very high end purity cocaine. Forensic analyses of phone data and surveillance evidence was central to the case. Mr Chrysostomou was a vulnerable defendant having suffered two strokes. Communication was difficult and instructions were taken with care. Matters were compounded by virtue of the fact that one of the other defendants, Mr Pritchard, sought to lay the blame solely on Mr Chrysostomou. Pritchard a notorious smuggler had previously been tried for importing 500 kilos of cocaine.
R v EDWARD BUTCHER
Historical sex case committed over 45 years ago concerning numerous allegations of sexual assault of a brother on his younger sister. The assaults were alleged to have taken place consistently over a number of years. The Prosecution case stated that the assaults begun when Mr Butcher was 13 years old and his sister was 11 years old. The Crown alleged that the assaults increased in both frequency and aggression as the years progressed. Mr Butcher was acquitted of the latter and indeed more serious allegations. The case was unusual as it involved allegations made by a sister on her brother in respect of matters which allegedly took place so long ago.
R v JUNAIL ALI
Child grooming and rape concerning a number of Asian males who were allegedly involved in grooming young vulnerable girls in deprived areas. The modus operandi being girls would be identified as vulnerable and approached, befriended and given alcohol. They would be abused by a number of men either simultaneously or consequentially from each other. There were several defendant’s in this case, however the allegations against Mr Ali were the most serious. The case was conducted with care and precision given the age of the witnesses.