“I want to see my clients straight away. I ask them if they are ok; they almost never are. That leads straight into the diverse field of how to mend people and, where necessary, get the right agencies/experts involved. I know that my clients are nervous about meeting a lawyer. Making them comfortable right from the off is my priority. My ambition is that by the time they leave their first conference they understand all of the courses their case might take and how it might affect them and those close to them and how much it will cost. Everyone is interesting, everyone is different. I do not think I will ever tire of this work.”
Nicholas is a specialist criminal solicitor and advocate with substantial high level experience in the criminal law arena. A brilliant advocate with courage and flair, who commands the respect of all with whom he works. He has a meticulous eye for detail and a natural respect and warmth for the human at the heart of each case, he is a winner who fiercely protects his clients.
Nicholas’ background as a scientist explains much of his technical expertise. He qualified firstly as a barrister and later cross-qualified as a solicitor. Practicing in London at that time, Nicholas’ increasing specialism in complex and privately funded defence work saw him join the expert niche criminal law team now at Stone King in 2012. His practice is nationwide.
Nicholas has a particular depth of expertise in cases involving all alleged sexual offending from the least to the most serious. He has been involved in hundreds of such cases in recent years, and is a leading expert in his field. Every case is different, but cases involving illegal imagery, vigilantes, undercover stings, contact offending and historic allegations are frequent instructions. Those with Autistic Spectrum Disorders or other mental health issues will feel particularly well supported and reassured by Nicholas’ substantial experience in handling such cases.
Nicholas conducts his advocacy in Crown Courts, the Court of Appeal and the High Court all over the country.
He is also one of a few specialist practitioners in shotgun and firearms licensing breaches and appeals.
- Professional Experience
Nicholas’ scientific background in Geology saw him offer professional expert advice in respect of the hazards and risks associated with contaminated land, landslides and collapsed mine workings. Through this profession Nicholas became of necessity a natural speaker and advocate. It is no surprise that Nicholas’ professional experience remains founded in rigorous expert knowledge delivered in a real world setting. He qualified first as a barrister, called to Lincolns Inn, and later cross-qualified as a solicitor within a well-respected, substantial and varied practice based in London. Nicholas cut his teeth on heavyweight Metropolitan practice, with a varied caseload both individually and leading a team, including very high value frauds, serious Sexual Offences, domestic and other serious Violence, Homicide, and Domestic Violence.
Nicholas has been judicially commended for his work in respect of multi-handed undercover drug dealing operations. He chose to adapt his extensive experience to develop a rare and specialist service to private individuals and organisations facing criminal allegations or engaged with law enforcement agencies. Nicholas is able to provide advice and representation from the inception of an allegation or investigation to the final conclusion in any court in the land. This continuity of service is rarely available in legal practice, but ensures that individuals facing life changing allegations are able to have the very best advice, support and representation whether at the police station, Magistrates Court, Crown Court, Court of Appeal, Supreme Court, High Court or beyond. Having appeared in various precedent setting cases from Sexual Allegations to Rights of Entry, Nicholas’ skillset has his influence bear across the wider Criminal Justice Arena.
- Sexual Offences
Nicholas has in recent years developed a specialist practice in handling sexual allegations, and is a market leader in this field. The proliferation of sexual cases, especially in respect of online offending, has seen him in constant high demand. He has extensive experience across the range of sexual allegations, from online imagery and communication to serious familial and non-familial contact offending and historical cases.
The offences relating to possessing, making, distributing and producing indecent images of children have grown as the internet has grown. Nicholas brings his meticulous eye for detail, technical scientific background and person centric approach to these sensitive cases. Whether mitigating for those who have accessed such imagery and have committed to sustainable change or securing the acquittal of a person wrongly accused, Nicholas is accustomed to seeing justice done. Topics relating to IT forensics, unallocated material, pop ups, Trojan’s, remote access and Categorisation are all routine for Nicholas. Likewise, the presentation of material demonstrating a determination and commitment to address offending behaviour, including expert evidence from forensic psychiatrists or other risk assessment experts, is a regular part of his practice.
Online communication offences have become a further area of specialty, both in respect of undercover police operations and vigilante action. The admissibility of electronic evidence in these cases and the boundaries of acceptable law enforcement (including entrapment) are live issues in many such cases. Nicholas has significant experience of cases arising from Kik, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Skype, Zoom and other social media platforms, and also from investigations carried out by the National Crime Agency, local police forces and those emanating from international agencies. Vigilante sting operations have become a controversial caseload, unwelcome and disavowed by many police forces and littered with legal and evidential challenges, yet common. Cases in this field encompass offences of causing and inciting sexual behaviour, sexual communication, meeting following grooming and arranging or facilitating a sexual offence, very often in an attempted framework not involving real children.
Historic sexual offences, both familial and professional, are some of the most difficult in the modern criminal justice system. Challenges relating to disclosure are common and Nicholas has a reputation for his tireless pursuit of justice. Nicholas has substantial experience in both trial and mitigation cases in this field.
Nicholas has unrivalled expertise in handling cases involving Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, alongside related issues arising from the Sex Offender’s Register or Sexual Risk Orders. Although applications for these orders have become almost ubiquitous in sexual offence cases, Nicholas has brought a consistent and sustained challenge to the lawfulness and necessity of such orders, as well as bringing applications to vary or discharge such orders previously made. Having been personally involved in a series of Court of Appeal challenges, there are few practitioners who can bring such a wealth of knowledge and experience to these cases.
Nicholas has High Court experience in conducting challenges by way of Judicial Review to the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute in sexual cases. Though rare, when a prosecutorial decision is so bad as to be irrational, Nicholas is both willing and able to challenge the process at the highest level.
- Case Studies
D v Chief Constable, June 2021. Our client had been made subject to the notification requirements for life following a an extended sentence following conviction for indecent images some 10 years ago. A detailed application was completed and submitted to the Chief Constable. The Public Protection Unit agreed that he no longer posed a risk of harm and as a result the application was successful.
Feb 2021: Represented a student for three offences of possession with intent to supply drugs including cocaine. Such cases almost inevitably result in an immediate custodial sentence. In appropriate cases Stone King are keen to engage those who wish to reduce their risk and address their offending behaviour. In this case close liaison with the family in respect of interventions and addressing offending behaviour resulted in a high degree of confidence that the defendant showed a real prospect of rehabilitation. The student was in his first year at university and had left the family home a month before. He was immature and naïve and dealing to recreational users only. Exceptionally the defendant received a suspended sentence.
R v H 2020 Crown Court: H had been arrested for the making/possession of indecent images. A significant number were found on his computer but they were not accessible as all had been deleted. H denied accessing these as a deliberate act and said he was appalled by such images and deleted them immediately when he found them. He was charged with three counts of making such images and sent to the Crown Court for trial. There were no indicative search terms on his computer and no other supporting evidence that H accessed this content intentionally. Nick commissioned an independent expert to assess the police expert’s report which was found to be flawed and following this the Crown offered no evidence on all charges days before the trial was listed.
R v A 2020 Crown Court: distribution of indecent images denied – making/possessing admitted. Distribution automatic via peer to peer software on Emule. Starting point 3 years imprisonment. Application to dismiss distribution - distribution would have been in packets and the Crown could not prove that an entire file was sent. Distribution dismissed. Sentence - 2 year community order, 5 year SHPO.
R v P and others 2020. Court of Appeal guideline case on the sentencing of sex offenders in cases where there is no victim i.e. undercover police officers or vigilantes.
W v Chief Constable of North Wales Police 2020. Administrative Court, Queens Bench Division. Judicial Review of decision of Chief Constable to impose a caution.
W v Chief Constable of North Wales Police 2020. Contesting decision of Chief Constable in respect of a Sexual Risk Order.
D v Crown Prosecution Service 2019. Administrative Court, Queens Bench Division, Judicial Review of decision of Crown Prosecution Service refusing to divert juvenile away from prosecution in respect of indecent images offences.
H v R 2019. Court of Appeal. Appeal length of Sexual Harm Prevention order.
R v H 2019. Crown Court. Trial on historical sexual offences.
R v O 2019. Crown Court. Trial on indecent images offences. Expert evidence and legal submissions resulted in Crown ending the case days before trial. Not Guilty verdicts.
R v M 2019. Crown Court. Sentence for offences of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity. Undercover police officer posing as child. Client avoided a custodial sentence.
R v W 2019. Crown Court. Sentence for offences of sexual communication with a child and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity. Vigilante croup posing as child. Vulnerable defendant with schizophrenia and autism.
R v T 2019: South Wales Police. Indecent images case. No evidence defendant had deliberately and intentionally made indecent images. No further action taken.
When Nicholas isn’t working he is likely to either be out riding his motorbike, (avoiding his many DIY tasks), listening to his music collection or trying to find a quiet corner in his favourite coffee shop with a crossword and cake.
Nicholas has travelled widely in South East Asia and Europe.