Leading law firm specialising in defending allegations of murder and manslaughter
Olliers Solicitors have significant experience of defending people charged with murder.
These cases can vary greatly, from a ‘one on one’ fight where tragically the victim dies, to an organised gangland execution, or a group incident where all participants (whether administering the fatal injury or not) are charged as part of a joint enterprise.
Olliers have dealt with many types of murder cases. Some murder cases end up as manslaughter, other cases are charged as manslaughter.
At Olliers we undertake a thorough analysis of the evidence and consider all issues pertinent to each case. Remember it is for the prosecution to prove the case. The types of evidence relied on will vary in complexity depending on the type of case.
Where there are eye-witnesses to the incident they will invariably be interviewed and where possible relied on by the prosecution. Additionally the prosecution may obtain CCTV, telephone records, cell site analysis, ANPR evidence of vehicle movement, or forensic evidence in the form of DNA, fingerprints, or gunpowder residue. It may be necessary for us to instruct an approved expert in one of the above fields in order to comment on, check and sometimes challenge the prosecution’s assertions
If you require representation when arrested or charged with this most serious offence please contact Olliers.
Watch Head of Serious Crime, Matthew Corn, talk through Olliers expertise in Murder & Manslaughter cases:
Well to be guilty of murder, the offence of murder, you have to have intended to cause really serious harm or to kill the victim. Manslaughter is different. In the case of manslaughter, whilst you may be responsible for the person’s death, you may have caused their death, but you didn’t intend to do so. Probably the best example I can give would be fights in a pub where for example if you’ve intended to repeatedly punch somebody in the head and then they die and you’ve intended that they die or that they suffer really serious harm, you would be guilty of murder. However, if there was a fight where you acted unlawfully, in that you were the aggressor but that you didn’t intend to cause that person really serious harm and after that fight that person sadly died, you would be guilty of manslaughter.
In relation to murder, the defences that that are available would be for example: alibi, in other words I wasn’t there, I have witnesses that will say that I was somewhere else. That would be an easy defence to run if it was accurate. Secondly, it might be self-defence, and again that’s commonly used where you’ve acted proportionately or reasonable and used sufficient force to defend yourself or somebody else who’s being attacked by the person that ends up dying. There may also be a defence of causation, in other words I did not cause that person’s death, there was an intervening act which caused the death and therefore my actions did not bring about the death of this person. There may be psychiatric or psychological issues that affected your mental state for example you may be running the defence of diminished responsibility where you were suffering from an abnormality of mind which meant that you couldn’t possibly have formed the necessary intent to be guilty of murder. Finally, there may also be the defence of loss of control which replaced the old defence of provocation but that’s quite uncommon in murder cases in my experience.
In murder cases looking first of all at what defence evidence might be necessary to assist your defence, of course if you’re running alibi it’s very important that there is evidence to support the fact that you were somewhere else at the time of the alleged offence. There may also be a need for an expert to comment on the issue of, for example, causation, and an expert to support your case that your actions didn’t cause this person’s death. There may also, for example, that you’re running diminished responsibility there would have to be psychiatric or psychological medical evidence to show that you were suffering from an abnormality of mind. From the prosecution’s point of view however, the evidence that would commonly arise in those sorts of cases, of course firstly, there may be an eyewitness to the incident of course that would be powerful evidence for the prosecution to use, but in absence of an eyewitness you may well have telephone evidence. For example, they may seek to attribute a phone to you which they say is integral in the carrying out of the murder, for example it may have made contact which puts you in a particular place and they can then establish what we call cell site analysis of your phone to say well if you were carrying that phone the cell site data proves that you were in this particular place or location at the time of the murder. There may be scientific or forensic evidence that the prosecution rely on, for example, DNA, fingerprints and the like, gunshot residue if it’s a firearms case, those sorts of evidence pieces of evidence. There may also be ANPR, everybody sees the cameras around those cameras take photographs of number plates, if you’re in a car at the material time that prosecution may seek to use that sort of evidence as well. There may be CCTV of an incident, people will see CTTV cameras wherever they go in big cities these days and that evidence is often commonly used as well. So those are the general areas of evidence that might be used in in these types of case.
Well joint Enterprise is quite a complex area of law and often the prosecution will rely on murder cases by region of joint enterprise where there are one or more defendants. Probably the best way to explain how the law works in this regard is to give an example, and I would say the probably the easiest example to explain might be where you have a number of individuals that are charged with murder, for example, a gang or a group of people that attack one particular individual the victim you might only have one member of that group who stabs this person, or who shoots this person, but the other members of the group can also sometimes be guilty of murder on the basis of joint enterprise, if they participated in that incident and that they shared the same intention of the assailant. So for example, if you’ve encouraged or you’ve urged that person to go ahead and stab that person, or shoot that person, then you would be guilty of murder by reason of joint enterprise on the basis that you have the same intention as the actual assailant. If the prosecution can show that you either encouraged the assailant or that you participated and that you shared the same intention as the assailant, then you could be guilty of murder. Of course, the prosecution has to prove that you’re guilty based on joint enterprise and if you simply didn’t have that intention if, for example, you didn’t know what was going to happen, you certainly didn’t encourage the assailant, you may have thought that this person was going to be harmed but perhaps not seriously, but nonetheless you are part of that group then you may not be guilty of murder but you may still be guilty of manslaughter. So it’s quite a complex area, hence the need to instruct specialist lawyers.
Conspiracy to murder is simply an agreement between individuals to murder somebody or to cause somebody really serious harm or to kill someone. The key word is agreement, a conspiracy is in agreement, so it’s different people agreeing to do different things but with the same end. In relation to a conspiracy to murder, the situation may be that somebody has organized a hit, or an assassination, or a murder of somebody and has instructed other people to carry out different roles within that plot, for example, they may be the driver, they may be the person that acquires the firearm, they may be the person that provides the knife, but the key issue is an agreement and it doesn’t matter if the victim is killed or not, as long as there is an agreement which is a serious plan which all parties were party to and privy to then they can be guilty of a conspiracy to murder. Obviously in some cases people are murdered and they charge it as a conspiracy rather than just as a murder, but the key word is an agreement – can the prosecution prove that there’s an agreement between the parties.
Well in relation to murder there is only one sentence which is a mandatory life imprisonment, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean a full life term. There are occasions in really serious cases, and those are usually reported in the in the media, where somebody is sentenced to a full life term. It might be for example where somebody has murdered a police officer, or it might be where somebody’s murdered a child, or there’s been particularly horrific circumstances to the murder, a serial killer, somebody that is so dangerous that only a full life term is appropriate. But what it means in in most murder cases is that the judge will say life imprisonment and then he will fix a minimum term, which is essentially the term of imprisonment that must be served before the parole board can at least consider release. Thereafter, if the parole board does allow release, then you are unlicensed for life. In other words, if you ever commit another offence, you could be recalled on that license and sent back to prison for the remainder of the term. Probably the best examples are in relation to murders that involve the use of a firearm, for example, in a murder that involved the use of a firearm, the starting point is one of 30 years. The judge will pass sentence and say that this person will serve a minimum of 30 years. It’s not like other offences where you might serve half of that offence or two-thirds of that offence, you must serve the full 30 years before you can be considered for parole. Obviously some murder cases are not regarded quite so seriously by the courts, for example, if there are no weapons used then the starting point will be considerably less than that and could be between 15 and 20 years, depending on the circumstances of the offence. But in short it’s a life sentence.
Ollies have a great deal of expertise and of course experience in representing people charged with this most serious of offences. We deal with people at a time where they are extremely vulnerable. If you are charged with this grave offence, that the likelihood is that you are in custody on remand, you may feel extremely anxious, you may be extremely worried about what the evidence is, you may be worried, of course, about how to get through the trial, you may be worried, of course about the outcome. In particular, we at Olliers pride ourselves in client care. That is to say we attend upon our clients on a very regular basis, we visit them we take their instructions in full, we listen to what they have to say, we listen to their fears, their concerns, their worries and we listen to the instructions and the detail that they provide which is integral for their defence. Possibly the most important aspect of Defending somebody in a murder case, aside from the client care, is preparing a very detailed defence statement, which of course sets out in detail what your defence is and it also seeks to challenge what the prosecution are alleging against you. So here at Ollie’s we’re all about the client, we’re all about providing the best possible client focus, the best possible client care and of course our aim is to achieve the best possible outcome for you.
Common issues in murder/manslaughter cases:
To be guilty of murder the prosecution have to prove not only that you committed or participated in the act alleged but also that you intended to kill or to cause really serious harm to the victim. It is less common for a person to be charged from the outset with manslaughter although this can happen where it is alleged that the accused person is responsible for victim’s death but did not intend to kill that person or to cause them really serious harm.
In some cases, an accused person may accept responsibility for victim’s death but denies the requisite intent to kill or cause really serious harm and pleads guilty to manslaughter. Such a case may involve an exploration of the accused’s mental state at the time of the offence which requires the instruction of a psychiatrist or psychologist to assess the accused.
Sometimes, manslaughter is the verdict of the jury in a trial as an alternative to murder, where for example they are sure that the accused person caused the death of the victim or was responsible for it, but they were not sure that he or she intended to kill or to cause really serious harm. On other occasions, the issue may be much more straightforward. The defence case might be one of self-defence where the accused acted in a proportionate and reasonable way in defending himself or another.
There may also be issues of causation. For example was it the accused person’s actions which caused the victim to die or was there another intervening act.
The accused may in fact simply be disputing that he was even present at all at the scene of the incident. He may have an alibi.
More complex issue concerns ‘Joint enterprise’ where the accused person is said to have been part of a group activity where his actions may have simply been to encourage others to commit the act of murder. The prosecution would have to prove that even though he may not have been the assailant, he shared the same intention of killing or causing really serious harm to the victim.
Conspiracy to murder
In a so called ‘gangland’ type murder, the accused need not be the person who ‘pulled the trigger’, he might have lured the victim to his death, he may be the getaway driver, he may have supplied the gun knowing its intended use, he may have planned it, organised it or ordered the ‘hit’.
Within Olliers Solicitors, Matthew Corn and Zita Spencer deal with serious crime such as murder and as part of the process of defending a person accused of murder we instruct approved barristers who have significant experience of such cases. Click here to read more about conspiracy to murder.
Sentencing in murder cases
For any adult convicted of murder, it carries a mandatory life sentence that will have a minimum fixed term attached to it. This is the period of time that must be served before being eligible for parole. Upon release the person remains on licence for the remainder of their life.
Click here to read more.
Assisting an Offender
Assisting an offender involves carrying out an act with the intention of preventing another person being arrested or prosecuted, with the knowledge or belief that said person has committed a ‘relevant offence.’ In the context of assisting an offender a relevant offence is any offence that can be punishable by more than five years in prison and commonly includes murder. It requires another offence to have been committed and acts that could otherwise be considered perfectly innocent (in the absence of the underlying offence) become illegal and punishable by a prison sentence.
Examples of assisting an offender can include:
- Washing the clothes of that person to remove evidence
- Allowing them to hide in their house/garden/shed/car
- Giving them a lift to the airport/ train station/ taxi rank
- Hiding or disposing of a weapon for them
- Disposing of a vehicle linked to the offence on their behalf
For more information in relation to assisting an offender please click here.
Recent murder cases include:
- 2023: Operation Sandpiper – Manchester Crown Court; representing juvenile defendant in multi-handed murder case.
- 2023: R v X – Bristol Crown Court – representing juvenile defendant in multi-handed murder case.
- 2023: Operation Perth Liverpool Crown Court; Representing defendant in high profile multi handed murder case.
- 2023: Operation Pavecrest – Leeds Crown Court; representing a defendant charged with a historic murder case.
- 2023: Operation Orkney – Manchester Crown Court Representing juvenile defendant charged with murder in multi handed case
- 2022: Carlisle Crown Court – Operation Denmark; representing defendant accused of Assisting an Offender (murder case)
- 2022: Liverpool Crown Court – R v X; representing defendant accused of Assisting an Offender (murder case)
- 2021: – R v A – Representing 18-year-old, one of 13 alleged gang members, in relation to murder of 15-year-old member of another gang in Manchester
- 2021: – R v N – Representing 14-year-old boy charged another youth, with murder of 15-year-old boy in Bolton
- 2021: Preston Crown Court – Operation Collingdale. Representation of defendant charged with murder following alleged gangland shooting. Read more
- 2021: Manchester Court. Representation of defendant charge with murder following arson attack which killed mother and four children. Read more.
- 2021: Manchester Crown Court. Representation of defendant in connection with shooting of 18 year old male in Bury. Read more
- 2020 Representation of man arrested in connection with ‘joint enterprise’ murder allegation following Wythenshawe stabbing. Following three days of police interviews suspect released without charge. Read more.
- 2019: Manchester Crown Court. Acquittal of 17 year old youth referred to as ‘Boy A’ accused of killing Manchester Grammar School pupil Yousef Makki. Read more
- 2019: Defending a person accused of carrying out a machete attack on a drug rival.
- 2018: Acquittal of client who was prosecuted for murder. He handed himself into a local police station a few days after the incident stating he witnessed another male beat the victim to death in this case. Both males were prosecuted on the basis our client may have been involved due to being present at the scene. Our client was found not guilty with the other male being convicted. Read more.
- 2018: Representation of defendant facing allegation of murder following fatal stabbing. Read more
- 2018: Operation Image. Representing defendant charged with a gang related murder at Manchester Crown Court.
- 2017:Operation Troop. Represented juvenile defendant charged with gang related murder at Manchester Crown Court. Defendant acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter.
- 2017: R v T: Represented defendant who pleaded guilty to the murder of his friend – Manchester Crown Court.
- 2017: Acquittal of youth charged in connection with gang related murder. Prosecution case relied upon joint enterprise. Read more.
- 2016: Operation Coda. Represented defendant in multi handed gangland execution style murder at Liverpool Crown Court.
- 2016: Chester Crown Court – Operation Reactor. Represented defendant charged with murder. Issues relating to causation. Defendant acquitted of murder but convicted of manslaughter.
Older high profile murder cases include:
- 2013 : Acquittal of defendant charged with gang killing alongside police killer Dale Cregan. Read more.
- 2012: R v A; represented defendant charged with planning the murder of his brother in law. Due to disclosure requests made by the defence, the Crown offer no evidence resulting in not guilty verdicts being entered.
- 2009: Representation of Gooch gang member charged with double murder.
- 2003: Not guilty verdict for defendant charged with the Stockport murder of petty criminal David Barnshaw.
- 2002: Representation of alleged serial killer named by police as being responsible for 1986 murder of estate agent Suzy Lamplugh.
- 1997: Representation of hit man charged with the 1992 murder of Chorley accountant Michael Austin.