Richard Atkins QC Crime

Call: 1989 | Silk: 2011

Leader of the Midland Circuit
Bencher of Gray's Inn


Described in the Legal 500 as “The dedicated Richard Atkins QC is a powerful and persuasive advocate who attracts praise for his ability to command and control the courtroom and proceedings.” Placed in Band 1 of the Chambers and Partners Directory which states: “Has a substantial practice in serious crime and regulatory law. He specialises predominantly in murder cases including gangland and matrimonial killings.”

Richard specialises in serious criminal and regulatory offences concentrating on homicide, fraud, health and safety and consumer law and trading standards cases. He has extensive experience in murder and manslaughter cases; complex multi-defendant high value frauds and serious sexual offences. He defends and prosecutes in equal measure and his reputation is as an approachable, engaging and entertaining advocate. He is well known for his ability to assimilate a large amount of facts and to put the matters across to the tribunal he is appearing before in an effective and easily digestible manner. He has appeared regularly in the Court of Appeal.

His regulatory practice comprises of Consumer Law and Trading Standards cases, Health and Safety cases including associated inquests and cases arising from business offences. He has appeared before the Professional Golfers’ Association National Disciplinary Committee and has advised the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association. He has prosecuted for the Serious Fraud Office. He has previously dealt with liquor and entertainment licensing cases.

He is regularly instructed to defend in privately funded cases and encourages the use of fixed or capped fees providing certainty of costs for clients. He is Direct Access qualified. Depending on the nature of the case he is prepared to act without a junior.

Richard regularly gives seminars in St Philips Chambers on Regulatory and Criminal Law topics. He has also been instrumental in providing in-house seminars for clients tailored to their specific needs and requirements and has recently delivered a seminar to the West Midlands Police National Fraud Forum.

Richard sits as a Crown Court Recorder and is authorised to try all criminal offences except homicide. He has recently been appointed as one of a small number of Judicial College Tutor Judges in which role he trains Crown Court and High Court Judges and Recorders. He is also a Midland Circuit and Gray’s Inn Advocacy Trainer.

Richard is the Head of the St Philip’s Chambers Criminal Group and a member of the St Philip’s Chambers Regulatory Group.

Chambers & Partners 2015:

He is a highly experienced advocate and is admired for his serious crime practice, which features both prosecution and defence work, in cases ranging from murder to fraud.

Expertise: “He is a very intelligent and very sharp advocate.”


Qualifications and Appointments:

  • Judicial College Tutor Judge – 2012
  • Queen’s Counsel – 2011
  • Recorder of the Crown Court – 2005
  • Bar Finals – 1989
  • BA (Hons) Jurisprudence, St Catherine’s College, Oxford University – 1988
  • King Henry VIII School Coventry – 1973-1984

Other Information:

Richard is Leader of the Midland Circuit and a member of the South Eastern Circuit. He is Chairman of the Bar Council Member Services Board, and sits on the General Management Committee of the Bar Council.

He is a member of the BARCO escrow account committee. He was vice-Chairman of the 2013 Bar Conference and is the Chairman of the 2014 Bar Conference. He helped to launch the Bar Council Speakers for Schools project and is actively involved in the Bar Council’s “Speak up for others” programme, regularly giving talks to schools and Universities in and around the Midlands about the Law. He chairs the St Philip’s Chambers and Aston University annual “Access to Law and the Bar” Conference. He has also acted as a Judge in the Finals of the Bar Council National Schools Mock Trials Competition. As both a Midland Circuit and Gray’s Inn Advocacy trainer, he trains pupils and new practitioners in the art of advocacy.

Richard is the first Barrister to be elected to the Birmingham Law Society Council. Richard was Chairman of the Governors of the Coventry Schools Foundation (2011-2014), which governs King Henry VIII Senior and Preparatory Schools and Bablake Senior, Junior and Pre-Prep Schools. In this role he has also chaired tribunals dealing with teachers’ and parents’ grievances and heard appeals from the decisions of the Headmasters.

Richard is also a professional after-dinner speaker and has spoken at such events as the Birmingham Law Society President’s Dinner, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Dinner, the Birmingham Medico-Legal Association Dinner and the Association of Cardiovascular Intervention Physicians Annual Dinner. He enjoys 20th Century Military History, Ballroom dancing, good red wine and (last but not least) his family.

Corporate and Gross Negligence Manslaughter

Richard is currently advising on behalf of the defence in a substantial corporate manslaughter investigation which has yet to reach charge. The police are still investigating the death and Richard has been retained by a leading firm of Solicitors to advise and then represent the company should charges be brought. He has extensive experience of Health and Safety cases particularly where fatal accidents have occurred and this combined with his experience in dealing with homicide offences is a major asset when considering and advising in this relatively new area of law.

He has previously prosecuted a manslaughter where both unlawful act and gross negligence manslaughter were possible alternative or joint verdicts. In what was a ground breaking approach he persuaded the Judge to leave a single count of manslaughter to the jury with a request that they indicated when  delivering their verdict on which basis they convicted. In the event they indicated both unlawful act and gross negligence. The matter was not appealed.

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Fraud, Business and Financial Crime

As a Silk and a Junior, Richard has defended and prosecuted in a number of substantial and lengthy fraud trials. As a Junior he was an “A” list prosecutor for the DTI (now BIS), and was instructed by the SFO in the prosecution of a substantial green form legal aid fraud. In November 2013 he was asked to deliver a 2 1/4 hour seminar at the West Midlands Police National Fraud Forum. He regularly defends businessmen facing trial in relation to allegations of dishonesty and fraudulent trading, as well as matters arising from insolvency or bankruptcy. He has defended and prosecuted a number of substantial international boiler room frauds. In early 2013 he was instructed for the Defence in what was estimated to be an 8 week long trial to be heard in Liverpool in relation to offences of Cheating the Revenue. After legal argument and submissions the prosecution re-considered their position and dropped the most substantial part of their case in relation to Corporation tax and accepted limited pleas in relation to Income Tax offences only. He is currently instructed for the defence in 2 separate cases for business men charged with offences of dishonesty. From 2008 to 2012 Richard led for the for the Crown in a what was ultimately a 14 week multi-million pound multi-Defendant fraud. This was subsequently appealed by the defence in relation to numerous matters, including jury irregularity. All grounds of appeal were dismissed after extensive argument before the Lord Chief Justice (R v Lewis 2013 EWCA Crim 776).

He has prosecuted amongst other matters a $5million international credit insurance fraud perpetrated on the makers of Sendo mobile telephones; a £2 million multi-defendant fraud perpetrated upon banks and credit card companies; and a series of cases dealing with a sophisticated international boiler-room fraud with links to America and the Far East where investors were duped into investing in non-existent worthless shares and then targeted again to invest in further non-existent shares. Related to these offences are the Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation hearings of which Richard has extensive experience and in September 2011 he chaired the St Philip's Chambers Proceeds of Crime Act Seminar.

Reported Cases:

R v H (2013). Defended a businessman charged with Cheating the Revenue out of millions of pounds.

R v Lewis 2013 EWCA Crim 776. The appeal of Lewis Geeling and Fellows heard by the Lord Chief Justice in which all grounds of appeal were dismissed.

R v Lewis Geeling Fellows and others (2009-2012). Prosecuted a 14 week multi-million pound multi-Defendant fraud relating to the theft and re-cycling of beer kegs. The second trial cracked after a the main defendants were convicted in the first trial.

R v Ahmed, Ahmed, Ahmed & Choudhary (2010). Prosecuted an 8-week multi-million pound fraud on banks and businesses.

R v Singh (2010). Defended a businessman charged with involvement in a conspiracy to defraud the West Midlands Police in relation to contracts for the supply of goods and services.

R v Whittlestone (2010). Defended a businessman charged with involvement in an international boiler room fraud.

R v Capewell (2008). Prosecuted an international boiler room fraud. R v Aftab & Panthaky (2007). Prosecuted a multi-million dollar international credit-insurance fraud perpetrated on the makers of Sendo mobile telephones.

R v Rathbone (2007). Defended a man charged with defrauding the company he was managing director of.

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Homicide (Murder and Manslaughter)

Richard has extensive experience of homicide cases, both prosecuting and defending. He has dealt with numerous killings arising out of domestic arguments including acting for the defence in a high profile case where the body of a young Polish woman was found in a suit case on wasteland in Burton on Trent and in another case in Stafford where a son killed his mother whilst under the influence of solvents. In the latter case the issues included fitness to plead, diminished responsibility by reason of abnormality of mental functioning, and self-induced intoxication. He has considerable experience of dealing with cases involving the deaths of young children and cases with complex medical issues involving pathologists, toxicologists and paediatricians.

He led for the defence in a case of perverting the course of public justice linked to a very high profile murder. He prosecuted a murder where all of the evidence was circumstantial and the case relied heavily on forensic scientific evidence. He has also prosecuted a number of high profile gang related shootings in and around the West Midlands and defended in drugs related killings.

Most recently Richard was instructed to lead for the defence in the high profile case of R v Pavlo Lapshyn who was charged with the murder of an 82 year old Muslim man in a random attack in the street In Birmingham, 3 counts of causing an explosion relating to the planting of bombs at Mosques in Tipton, Walsall and Wolverhampton and 1 count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts which related to future planned attacks. The case was heard at the Old Bailey (The Central Criminal Court). Richard persuaded the Prosecution to accept pleas to fewer charges and limited the basis of the pleas in relation to the terrorist and bomb offences.  After making submissions relating to European, Human Rights and English law, he successfully persuaded Mr Justice Sweeney not to pass a whole life sentence.

Reported Cases:

R v Pavlo Lapshyn (2013). Defended the Ukrainian charged with the murder of an 82 year old Muslim and the setting off of bombs at Mosques in and around the West Midlands.

R v Small (2013). Defended a man charged with the murder of his drugs supplier.

R v Cummins (2012). Prosecuted a man charged with the murder of his girlfirend. All of the evidence was circumstantial.

R v Young (2012). Defended the man accused of being the “getaway driver” in the Birmingham riots killing case.

R v Cupori (2012). Defended a man charged with the murder of his mother whilst under the influence of butane gas. Issues included the new partial defence of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, insanity, mental capacity and intoxication.

R v Chima (2011). Defended a man charged with the torture and murder of a fellow alcoholic.

R v Sobczak (2011). Defended a man charged with the murder of a young woman whose body was found in a suitcase on wasteland in Burton-on-Trent.

R v Price (2010). Defended a man charged with a gang related killing in Wolverhampton.

R v Asghar (2010). Prosecuted a man for the killing of a prostitute who fell from his car.

R v Hand and Westwood (2009). Prosecuted the parents of a vulnerable child who had died in their care. They had lost a previous child which had initially been viewed as a non-suspicious death but which in the light of the subsequent death was re-investigated and formed part of the evidence in the case.

R v Oliver Weldon and Price (2008). Prosecuted the murder of an innocent man who was mistaken for the intended victim and whose body was burned and buried in a field.

R v Hamilton (2008). Defended a man charged with attempted murder arising from gang related activities in Wolverhampton.

R v Perks (2008). Defended a man charged with the alleged homosexual killing of a homeless man.

R v Patterson (2007). Defended a man charged with the killing of his wife following a row over a pizza.

R v Hamilton (2007). Prosecuted an attempted murder where the victim who had suffered serious brain damage was called as a Prosecution witness.

R v Dooley (2005). Defended a man charged with a gang related murder.

R v Beckford and others (2004). Prosecuted a gang related murder arising out of a drugs dispute.

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Serious Sexual Offences

Richard has lectured to defence solicitors, the CPS and the West Midlands and Warwickshire Police on the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and subsequent cases and developments. He has dealt with all types of sexual offences from rape to sexual assault, voyeurism, exposure and downloading of indecent images. Many of the cases have involved child witnesses; people with mental health problems; and historic sexual abuse. His defence cases include those of a man charged with the historic rape and sexual abuse of his step daughters in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s; a man with mental health problems who was accused of the sexual abuse at knife point of a 15 year old boy; a man charged in the same trial with both the historic sexual abuse of his step daughter and the recent sexual abuse of the daughter of the woman he was then in a relationship with; and a man charged with the historic abuse of his nephews. He accepts private instructions in relation to sex cases. His prosecution cases have included a serial rapist targeting prostitutes in the Coventry area; a homosexual gang rape; and both historic and recent child abuse. Richard is one of a limited number of Crown Court Recorders who is authorised to try serious sexual offences.

Reported Cases:

R v S (2011). Privately instructed to defend a man charged with the homosexual assault of a police officer when under arrest. Negotiated a plea to a reduced number of charges and a basis of plea which resulted in the client receiving a non-custodial sentence.

R v G (2011). Defended a man charged with the historic rape and sexual abuse of his step-daughters.

R v W (2010). Defended a man charged with the historic rape of female family members.

R v K (2009). Defended a man charged with the rape of a female family friend.

R v M, F & R (2009). Prosecuted the gang rape of a teenage girl.

R v Nicklin (2009). Prosecuted a serial rapist of prostitutes. R v R (2009). Defended a man charged with the historic abuse of his nephews.

R v R (2009). Defended a man charged with the historic abuse of his step-brother and step-sister.

R v M (2008). Defended a man charged with historic and recent sexual abuse tried together.

R v H (2008). Defended a man with considerable learning difficulties charged with the sexual assault at knifepoint of a young boy.

R v Johnson & Myers (2007). Prosecuted a homosexual gang rape.

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