Sally O’Neill QC


Sally O’Neill QC has been consistently ranked as a leading Silk in crime in Chambers & Partners

The editors of the 2017 edition acclaim her as:

“An experienced practitioner who is highly acclaimed for her courtroom performances. An ‘astute advocate’, she is particularly well known for her mastery of serious sexual offence and infanticide cases, most notably those involving ‘baby shaking’. Her handling of the potentially vulnerable witnesses involved in such cases was much commented upon. She also excels in serious and complex murder and manslaughter cases, among others.  She’s very polished. Juries tend to like and trust her, because she has a direct way of communication with them which appeals to them. She’s a really formidable and fair opponent.”

And in 2015 she was acclaimed for: “appearing in complex and sensitive matters, including baby shaking cases and serious sexual and violent crime cases.”

She was the Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association from 2007 to 2008. She was The Times’ Lawyer of the Week on May 13th 2009. Click here to read the article.

Serious crime

Sally has been practising exclusively in Crime for the last 25 years, mostly at the Old Bailey, and took Silk in 1997.

Since taking Silk she has predominantly undertaken defence work, although she prosecuted in the “Baby P” case and a serious sexual allegation involving a complainant then aged four. She has recently prosecuted two multi-handed murders, one involving a car-jacking and the latest one involving the murder and later dismemberment and disposal of the body. She has considerable expertise in murder, manslaughter and serious sexual cases, especially child abuse and trials involving young defendants. She was also involved in the Oxford sexual grooming case.

Her extensive experience also includes the case of Whiting, which concerned the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne and representing Ian Watkins (Lostprophets) on very serious sexual abuse of extremely young children. Sally also represented Jake Farhi (the Jimmy Mizen case) and is currently representing a mother who stabbed to death a man accused of sexually assaulting three children.

Young & vulnerable defendants

Partly as a result of many years of involvement with the CBA, which included the production of a video with the NSPCC and other agencies on special measures, Sally has a particular interest in cases involving young and vulnerable defendants and she has defended in many such trials. She also has a particular interest and expertise in cases involving scientific, medical and psychiatric issues.


Fraud is another area of particular interest: Sally has experience in all aspects of serious fraud and white collar crime. An impressive track record of success in drugs trials rounds off her broad general crime practice.

Significant cases


January, 2015 – Blackfriars Crown Court – Murder and later dismemberment and disposal of body.

December 2014 –Central Criminal Court – Murder of a woman – an apparently random murder by a woman. Defendant phoned police and confessed. Acquitted.

September 2014 – Exeter Crown Court – Murder and robbery of a drug dealer in his home using an appalling level of violence.

June 2011 – Central Criminal Court – Manslaughter, robbery and burglary. 83 year old female occupant left bound. Not discovered for several weeks.

May 2011 – Wolverhampton Crown Court – Murder of def’s partner by stabbing her over 60 times. First prosecution under amended partial defences of loss of control and diminished responsibility.

November 2010 – Reading Crown Court – R v Weston – Double Jeopardy retrial for the murder of a woman walking her dog in a village lane. Hitting with rocks. Def then aged 20.

October 2010 – Maidstone Crown Court – R v Treeby – Murder and attempted murder of uncle and nephew by four members of same family. Shooting and running over.

July 2010 – Snaresbrook Crown Court – Murder of a pre-operative transsexual working as a prostitute. Conviction quashed. Retrial pending.

June 2010 – Court of Appeal – Double Jeopardy case – Defendant acquitted of murder 15 years earlier – new forensic evidence found – retrial ordered.

April 2010 – Reading Crown Court – R v Radojevich – Murder of a woman in her own home by attacking her with a golf club and a video recorder and then concealing the body in a field.

February 10 – Maidstone Crown Court – R v Eggleton – Manslaughter of pedestrian by bus driver.

May 2009 – Central Criminal Court – R v Singer – Murder of partner, attempted murder of a baby and arson with intent.

March 2009 – Central Criminal Court – R v Fahri – Murder of a 16 year old boy (Jimmy Mizzen) by 19 year old defendant.

November 2008 – Basildon Crown Court – R v Mallinder – Murder of a four month baby.

September 2008 – Central Criminal Court – Prosecuting R v Barker, Connolly and Owen – Murder/ Causing/Allowing Death of a child (Baby P).

July 2008 – Central Criminal Court – Prosecuting the murder of a pre operative transsexual.

April 2008 – Central Criminal Court – R v Ratnasingham – Multi handed murder. Attack in a Chicken Cottage with large kitchen knives.

January 2008 – Central Criminal Court – R v C – Multi handed murder and attempted murder with young defendants. Stabbing.

October 2007 – Central Criminal Court – R v Davies – Murder of jogger on Mitcham Common and burial of body.

June 2007 – Central Criminal Court – Multi handed murder of a member of the public in a public car park by stabbing.

April 2007 – Central Criminal Court – R v Griffin – Murder by stabbing knife into eye of victim and knife breaking off.

February 2007 – Central Criminal Court – Multi handed murder of a school boy by young defendants. Stabbing.

Sexual Offences

January, 2013 – Central Criminal Court – Oxford Sexual Grooming case.

February 2011 – Maidstone Crown Court – Multi handed allegations of rape on two younger boys in the same family.

March 2010 – Isleworth Crown Court – R v Jama – Rape of a 13 year old girl with learning difficulties. Met on street.

January 2010 – Basildon Crown Court – R v Devereux – Many counts of rape and related offences, inciting prostitution and taking photographs and videos of step daughter aged 10 – 16.

November 2009 – Lewes Crown Court – man of good character in his 40’s charged with indecent assault on his step-daughter.

August 2009 – Wood Green Crown Court – 18 year of good character old charged with aiding and abetting a rape by his 16 year old friend. Video’d on mobile phone.

April 2009 – Central Criminal Court – R v Barker – Prosecuting the rape of a very young child.

June 2008 – Exeter Crown Court – R v Al-Jaber – Rapes and other serious sexual offences against two Russian teenagers picked up in the street.

Appointments and Working Groups
  • Recorder of the Crown Court since 1997
  • Chairman of CBA 2007 – 2008
  • Member of joint CBA/NSPCC working group which produced “A Case for Special Measures” DVD as a training material.
  • Member of ATC working group which has recently published a report “Raising the Bar ; Improving handling of vulnerable witnesses and defendants in court”
  • Member of current CBA/ NSPCC working group producing a new DVD containing working materials re the above.
  • Bencher of Gray’s Inn (since 2003).
  • Sally has a working knowledge of German and French.
  • Chambers & Partners 2019 Leading Barrister
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