International conspiracies to import and supply drugs, firearms and money laundering – Narita Bahra QC & Hannah Thomas instructed to defend
23rd Mar 2021 Read more
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15th Mar 2021 Read moreSee all news
Narita is recognised as heavyweight defence QC who appears in high profile murders, organised crime cases (international drug cartels, ﬁrearms and armed robberies), terrorism and serious sexual oﬀences.
Her reputation as fearless and artful tactician who achieves successful results has merited instruction by both professional and lay clients in heavyweight cases.
Narita is experienced in cross-examining expert witnesses, vulnerable witnesses, jury handling, identifying inadequacies in the prosecution case and challenging non-disclosure. A Barrister who takes great pride in leaving “no stone unturned” in the forensic preparation and presentation of her cases.
Narita advises and appears in Criminal Appeals where she provides clear and focused oral and written advice to both lay and professional clients.
Narita has appeared before the Court of Appeal Special Court.
Narita is currently instructed to seek adjudication upon a point of law in the European Court of Human Rights.
R v A and others (2021)
Narita led Hannah Thomas in a case concerning international drugs conspiracies, associated money laundering and possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition. Following a series of disclosure requests and successful defence representations, the matter resulted in the prosecution offering no evidence against Mr A on all of the conspiracy counts on day five of the trial.
R v E (2021)
Narita, leading Harry Bentley, was instructed to defend client charged with two counts of encouraging terrorism contrary to section 1 Terrorism Act 2006. It transpired that the client was a young man whose mental health deteriorated during the covid pandemic and went undetected. It was their positive engagement with the opposition that resulted in a just outcome.
R v S (2020)
Appeared for the main defendant who was extradited to the UK for Murder. The case involved challenging 9 expert witnesses.
R v T (2020)
Instructed to defend in Decapitation Murder at the Central Criminal Court.
A two pronged defence was advanced.
Please read news article The Independent.
R v P (2020)
Secured acquittals for the outstanding defendant dubbed “The Master Mind” in three multi handed drugs conspiracies involving encrypted telephones (Encrochat).
The prosecution alleged the client was the leading figure in three separate drugs conspiracies; arranging the exportation, production and supply of Class A, B and C drugs through prestigious universities. The Crown alleged that the drugs were supplied in UK universities and flown out of the UK in private jets for young high net worth purchasers. Recent studies suggest that young people and students in affluent communities are at greater risk of substance abuse; the cause of which being the enormous pressure to achieve academically.
The co-defendants were tried in 2018 and then adjourned to 2019. Narita and Harry secured acquittals for a co-defendant (dubbed second in command) in the earlier trial. Please read more here.
The police obtained search warrants for all the client’s properties and businesses. They were unable to locate the client at the time of the original two trials. The client voluntarily attended the police station in 2020. He was arrested and charged.
The Crown sought to rely on a combination of encrypted telephones, cell site, digital media, telephone and DNA evidence to secure a conviction against the client.
After extensive preparation and representations by the defence team, the prosecution conceded the written dismissal application and agreed to Offer No Evidence against their client. Not Guilty verdicts were entered on all counts relating to the client.
R v A (2020)
The trial of 4 defendants lasted 8 weeks before a High Court judge in the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. The victim was an 18 year old Somalian who was stabbed 21 times in a lane near to the Cardiff University Students Union. Multiple eye-witnesses from the University saw the attack and gave evidence for the prosecution.
The defence challenged the prosecution pathologist’s evidence in support of the defendants’ case of self- defence. This involved detailed cross examination of the pathologist to establish the precise cause of the multiple wounds, the effect of intoxication levels of the deceased, and a detailed analysis of the weapons used to inflict the wounds.
R v D (2019)
The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (‘MHRA’) brought a prosecution which they alleged had a substantial international dimension. It was alleged the client was the UK ringleader of the sophisticated operation.
The MHRA is an Executive Agency of the Department of Health responsible for the regulation and control of medicines and medical devices for on the UK market. The MHRA Enforcement Group includes a Prosecutions Unit who investigated and brought this case. The MHRA used undercover investigators and extensive covert surveillance methods in the course of their investigation. The case required challenging evidence which had not been obtained in accordance with Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA).
The client was alleged to be one of the ringleaders running a substantial and lucrative drop shipping business, conspiring with others, to import prescription only medicines (POMs), unauthorised medicines and Class C drugs from the Indian subcontinent into the UK, for onward sale across Europe. A number of illicit online drug sales platforms were said to have been used in the conspiracy. The case involved detailed analysis of substantial amounts of digital evidence.
In one raid, the MHRA seized more than 300,000 tablets, worth in excess of £315,000. The prosecution suggested that the tablets seized represented a fraction of the overall illegal operation.
The prosecution then brought complex Proceeds of Crime Act (‘POCA’) proceedings seeking substantial sums of monies from criminal conduct and hidden assets. At a hearing this week, following protracted negotiations, the defence persuaded the prosecution to agree to an order for a significantly reduced sum. Read more here.
R v S (2019)
Instructed to defend in a triple Murder. Narita’s client is alleged to have murdered his wife and two children before leaving the UK. Extradition proceedings resulted in the client being tried 12 years post the date of the offences. The case involves challenging numerous expert reports including; Pathologists, Cell Site, Telephonic, DNA and Fingerprint Experts. The focus of the defence centred around the developments and technologies which improved the sensitivity and informativeness of DNA testing over the last 12 years, read more here.
R v A (2018)
Appeared for the first defendant in three multi handed drugs conspiracies (leading).
The prosecution alleged the client was involved in a leading role in three separate conspiracies; arranging the exportation, production and supply of Class A, B and C drugs through prestigious universities. The Crown alleged that the drugs were supplied in UK universities and flown out of the UK in private jets for young high net worth purchasers. The Sentencing Council’s definitive sentencing guidelines indicated that the client could have faced a sentence in the region of 20 years imprisonment, in the event of conviction.
The Crown sought to rely on a combination of cell site, digital media, telephone and DNA evidence to secure a conviction against the client.
Shortly before the trial the prosecution “cracked” the defendant’s locked iPhone. Following a disclosure request the prosecution made a Public Interest Immunity application.
Narita succeeded in excluding evidence obtained from the unlocked phones on the grounds of unfairness to the defendant. As a result of representations made by the defence the Crown offered no evidence against the client. Not Guilty verdicts were entered on all counts.
R v I
Secured an acquittal for client charged with multi-million-pound conspiracy to manufacture, import, export and distribute Anabolic Steroids (Class C drugs). Arrests were made after the large volumes of drugs were seized Internationally and at a London airport. The Prosecution alleged that the client was one of six individuals involved, in the mass manufacture and production of anabolic steroids, in specialist laboratories. The Prosecution sought to rely upon evidence against the client, of his company and business dealings, spanning over 9 years. The case involved having an extensive knowledge of Medical Health Regulatory Association Regulations, Guidelines and Home Office licensing procedures. After extensive preparation and representations by the defence team, the Prosecution agreed to Offer No Evidence against this client alone.
R v R
Following a 4 week trial the client was cleared of his involvement in the murder of 74-year-old jeweler. The prosecution alleged that the deceased was abducted whilst walking home from his jewellery shop on 24th January by the client and 3 other men. The men tortured and beat Mr. Jogiya for information before dumping him in a country lane. The client was the only defendant to be acquitted despite all co-defendants attributing sole responsibility for the murder on him.
R v K
Client was acquitted of Rape. The case gained national media coverage after I exposed disclosure failings. This case was referred to the DPP for review on grounds of disclosure failings.
R v K
Client was acquitted of sexual assault in a Mayfair night club following the disclosure of vital CCTV evidence. The case gained national press coverage after the police failed to hand over vital security footage until the first day of trial. The footage, which was described as containing ‘nothing of interest’ by police resulted in the acquittal. The Judge ordered an enquiry into the disclosure failures by the CPS and Metropolitan Police. The CPS conceded there had been an ‘unnecessary or improper act or omission’ in respect of the disclosure failure.
R v S
Client was one of six defendants from Diego-Garcia, tried on a fourteen-count indictment including allegations of gang rape, sexual activity with a child, sexual exploitation and historic grooming offences. The six child witnesses were females aged between 13 and 15 years at the time of the alleged oﬀences. Intermediaries were utillised to assist the complainants. The client was the only defendant who faced allegations made by three complainants. The case involved complex strategic and tactical decisions which enabled successful legal arguments to be mounted. Narita identiﬁed signiﬁcant ﬂaws in the prosecution disclosure exercise and its impact on the integrity of the investigation and trial.
This resulted in the prosecution oﬀering no evidence on all counts, prior to the close of the prosecution case.
R v R
Secured an unanimous acquittal for client, who was one of seven defendants tried for Conspiracy to Commit Violent Disorder. Case was prosecuted by Treasury Counsel, due to the sensitive religious, cultural and political aspects. It was alleged that violence was planned as revenge as a direct retaliation against the followers of those who had desecrated the Sikh holy scriptures in Punjab, India previously over an eighteen month period. My instruction of experts enabled the successful exclusion of damaging material. The client’s case was distinct from all other co-defendants and therefore, involved exercising judgement in the forensic analysis and presentation of the case.
R v H
Secured the unanimous acquittal of an Assistant Headteacher charged with six sexual oﬀences. The case took over 26 months to complete due to novel and complex legal argument, relating to challenging Computer Expert Evidence. The Court ruled in favour of the defence submissions, which challenged the reliability and means by which the alleged images had been obtained and attributed. The jury acquitted of the remaining sexual oﬀence allegation in less than 10 minutes at the retrial.
R v B
Client was acquitted on all counts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation following nine days of cross examination of the complainant, extensive legal argument on disclosure and abuse of process. The Crown offered no evidence when they conceded that evidence existed which significantly undermined the complainant’s account and the disclosure process. Received national media attention because the client’s plight demonstrated the devastating impact prosecutorial negligence can have on the lives of those accused of a crime – the client spent 13 months in custody during which time she gave birth to a son with a genetic disorder. She and her son spent the first five months of his life in prison.
The Judge ordered an inquiry. The Judge observed “that there appeared to have been a wholesale failure on the part of the prosecution to deal with disclosure properly”. The judge observed that the defence had made repeated focused requests for disclosure but the court had been fundamentally misled at pre-trial hearings and applications to extend the custody time limits as to the strengths of the case, the CPS’s handling of disclosure and the prosecution’s trial readiness. The CPS and police were criticised by the judge for “serious errors” in their handling of the case stemming from the failure to accurately record and properly review unused material.
The Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor gave evidence on oath and accepted the CPS had fallen short in this case and apologised to the Court. He indicated an independent review into the case had been launched and would be provided to the DPP as well as the Court in an effort to identify what went wrong and ensure such mistakes were not repeated.
R v P
Secured a Rape acquittal for a Director at Universal Music.
R v F
Client was the sole defendant acquitted out of sixteen defendants allegedly involved in four shootings in Bedford. Prosecuted by the tri-force collaboration arrangement including Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, Counter Terror Intelligence Unit and the Regional Organised Crime Unit. Defence succeeded due to deployment of strategic and tactical judgement.
R v L
Client who ran a renowned Holistic Energy Healing Service acquitted of sexual assaults. A series of targeted disclosure requests resulted in obtaining email, what’s app and text messages between the complainant, client and other customers which enabled the defence to demonstrate that the complainant was unreliable. The Prosecution conceded that the material resulted in a necessary review of the evidence and later conceding that there was no longer a realistic possibility of conviction.
R v M
Client tried along with eight other defendants charged with a Conspiracy to supply class A drugs (to the value of three million pounds) spanning over two years. The prosecution alleged that the client played a leading role in the conspiracy by providing drugs to co-conspirators during a drought resulting from police closure of drugs factories. The prosecution sought to secure convictions based upon covert surveillance, automatic recognition plate evidence, CCTV, telephone evidence and cell site analysis. The prosecution alleged that the conspiracy spanned across the UK. Relied upon telecommunications experts to successfully challenge the prosecution evidence.
R v M
Client faced a forty-six count Indictment, alleging an array of rapes and sexual offences against two step children. Successful legal argument resulted in the court directing that the counts to be tried be reduced to twenty-four. The case was factually complex because one of the complainants had reported the same allegations to the police six years earlier however, the Crown Prosecution Service reached a decision not to proceed to prosecution on the first occasion. The court allowed the prosecution to adduce evidence of the earlier complaint, the reasons it was not prosecuted and bad character evidence of similar fact, namely evidence from his young spurned mistress that the client had groomed her since she was a child. The client’s mistress gave evidence of incidents which the Prosecution alleged were strikingly similar to the index grooming behaviour alleged against the client.
The client’s case was simply that no alleged incidents had occurred and all complainants and his mistress were fabricating allegations, as a result of the affair becoming uncovered. The client was unable to provide any tangible proof of this motive.
Detailed written requests for disclosure during the course of the trial resulted in uncovering a witness who had been in contact with all of the witnesses prior to and during the police investigation. Narita demonstrated through cross examination that this witness had contaminated all accounts.
Unanimously acquitted on all counts within an hour.
R v M
Client was alleged to be the ring leader in a conspiracy to supply firearms and ammunition to the UK criminal underworld. The five co-defendants were tried previously and imprisoned for a total of 45 years. It was alleged that whilst serving his sentence for possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, the client was directing operations, selling and distributing reactivated firearms and ammunition from his prison cell using an unauthorised mobile telephone. The client directed that purchased weapons should be reactivated at a workshop run by former Polish soldiers. More than 40 guns were sourced, including AK-47’s. Only 8 reactivated firearms out the 40+ linked to the gang were recovered. The case revolved around cell site and computer evidence. Experts on cybercrime were material in the case.
R v B
Instructed to a represent a high profile senior Solicitor in criminal proceedings emanating from civil proceedings in the Family Court. The charges were brought under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004. The case was unusually prosecuted by two senior CPS Lawyers and Queen’s Counsel due to the serious and unusual nature of proceedings. Post charge, advised on disciplinary hearings before the SRA and the Office for Supervision. Defence submissions and evidence obtained over the course of a year resulted in the prosecution offering no evidence on all counts. Not guilty verdicts were entered on the first day of trial.
R v B
Instructed to represent a client charged with managing an industrial cannabis factory within a disused Mill.
The factory was described by the media as “an industrial large scale set-up”. Illegal immigrants from Vietnam, were provided with a phones and food, but were living in squalid conditions and were prevented from leaving the mill. The prosecution case relied upon telephone and CCTV evidence which linked my client directly to the organisation and management of the operation. Narita’s focused written advocacy challenging the expert evidence resulted in the Crown offering no evidence on the first day of trial.
R v A
Successfully defended in the Aylesbury Child Sex Abuse Trial. Eleven defendants were tried on a fifty-one count Indictment. Narita’s client was one of two defendants who faced allegations by all complainants. The prosecution alleged the complainants came from troubled backgrounds and wanted to feel grown-up when they were befriended by the men, who groomed them by showering them with inexpensive gifts such as alcohol, DVDs, food and occasionally drugs. Narita mastered all of the evidence and unused material in order to make a series of successful legal submissions. Narita deployed skillful, focused and deft cross examination which resulted in all substantive counts against the client being discharged at the close of the prosecution case. This resulted in only one count being left to the jury to deliberate upon.
Graﬀ Diamond Robbery
Narita was instructed as a leading junior for the fourth defendant in the largest diamond heist in British history [£40 million] at Graﬀ jewellers, London. The case rested on expert evidence of face recognition, APNR and cell site.
R v P
The Crown alleged that the client (aged 21) had attempted to murder the complainant by carrying out a savage and ferocious stabbing and then leaving the complainant for dead. The case was tried before the Resident Judge at Staﬀord Crown Court. Narita successfully cross-examined twenty eye witnesses who were present at the time of the alleged stabbing. The jury acquitted client in less than an hour.
R v C
Successfully defended the only sixteen-year old in a twenty defendant Class A Drugs Conspiracy. The prosecution alleged the client played a significant role in this established and large-scale operation.
The case involved deploying my experience of handling a vulnerable defendant. Narita identiﬁed that the client was suggestible and easily inﬂuenced by authority and adults. An Educational Psychologist and Psychiatrist were instructed and defences of suggestibility and duress were advanced. An intermediary was appointed to assist the client’s communication and enabled the client to participate eﬀectively in the trial. The Police’s failure to acknowledge developmental diﬀerences between the client and adult co-defendants during all the searches and interrogation context was a live issue in the trial. Narita demonstrated the strengths and limitations of a youth’s memory, their communicative capacities, their social styles and orientation to adult questioners, and their susceptibility to suggestion.
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