Merry van Woodenberg

Merry van Woodenberg

"Merry is incredibly hard working. Her analysis is always extremely meticulous and she always has a real sense of how cases will play out which makes her advice on evidence of even more assistance. She is awfully persuasive when on her feet which supplements her outstanding written work. She will rise to the top of the criminal Bar."

Legal 500 UK 2024
Year of call: 2012
For enquiries please call: 020 7353 5324 or email vcard cv linkedin save

Criminal Defence

Whilst able to act and advise in cases involving any criminal offence, Merry’s particular expertise falls broadly into two camps: serious white-collar crime, and serious violent and sexual crime.

Serious violence and sexual offences

Merry has developed a particular expertise in representing children and other vulnerable individuals, including those with serious mental health issues, learning disabilities, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder. She has represented such individuals in cases of the utmost gravity, including allegations of murder. Merry frequently acts as sole counsel for children accused of rape and other sexual offences. Merry is therefore experienced at working with intermediaries, conducting trials of the facts, and presenting cases with complex psychiatric evidence.

Some recent examples of her work in this area include:

  • Defended a tutor found not guilty of sexually assaulting a student (Kingston Crown Court, 2023).
  • Acted for a man accused of the robbery and ‘hit and run’ of a pregnant woman (Wood Green Crown Court, 2023).
  • Merry defended LM, who was charged along with Manchester City footballer, BM, with a series of alleged sex offences. Following a 5-month trial the jury acquitted LM of five counts of rape, and one count of sexual assault, in relation to three women.
  • Junior counsel in a case involving three murders and three attempted murders, with an alleged terrorist motive. Defendant had significant psychiatric issues (Central Criminal Court, 2021).
  • Junior counsel for youth with learning difficulties charged with a firearms related murder (Woolwich Crown Court, 2021). Client acquitted following successful half-time submission.
  • Junior counsel representing a 14-year old charged with a joint enterprise gang related murder (Woolwich Crown Court, 2021). Client acquitted of murder and manslaughter.
  • Acting as sole counsel for a defendant with learning difficulties and ASD on a 27-count indictment, including 11 rape counts (Reading Crown Court, 2021). Complimented by the judge for sensitive and proficient handling of the case.
  • Airport bomb hoax (trial in 2022).
  • Acting for an 11-year-old charged with a series of alleged rapes (trial in 2021).

White-collar crime

Please see section on ‘Business Crime and Financial Services’.

The breadth of Merry’s experience in white-collar crime, both prosecuting and defending, means she is perfectly placed to act in cases involving serious financial offending.

Merry’s practice in this area is complemented by her past employment at a Band 1 specialist white-collar crime firm, at the Financial Conduct Authority (in Retail, the Criminal Prosecutions Team and the Proceeds of Crime department), and advising the Economic Crime Command in Jersey. She understands how prosecutors think and approach cases, and utilises that knowledge effectively in her defence practice.

Recent cases include:

  • Acting for the defence in the first Data Protection Act criminal case in which a corporate defendant was charged. Following legal argument as to the construction of a statutory defence, Merry’s client was acquitted of all charges.
  • Acting for the defence in a case involving a £4million conspiracy to defraud the Legal Aid Agency. Merry’s client, a Compliance Officer in a solicitor’s firm, was acquitted of all charges.
  • Secured a non-custodial sentence and no confiscation for an individual charged with evading £600,000 tax over several years.
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