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Catherine Oborne

  • Call: 2011
Catherine Oborne
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner
"A great young barrister with a bright future who works amazingly hard."

Legal 500, 2019

Practice

Catherine practises in criminal defence, inquests as well as associated public law challenges.

Crime

Catherine defends in a wide range of criminal cases including:

  • serious violence
  • serious drug supply
  • public disorder
  • protest
  • fraud

Catherine also appears in the Court of Appeal on appeals against conviction and sentence as well as advising on references to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

As a led junior, Catherine is regularly instructed in complex cases involving homicide, terrorism and offences against public justice.

Recent cases have included:

R v C – CCC – March 2016: Led by James Scobie QC. Instructed to defend a 17-year-old boy charged with murder. This incident arose from a stabbing in a park in Islington. C accepted driving the stabber to the scene and knowing that he had the knife with him. This was one of the first joint enterprise cases following the Supreme Court judgment of Jogee. C was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter.

R v Bhadresh Gohil – Southwark CC – January 2016: Led by Stephen Kamlish QC.  Instructed to defend a man accused of perverting the course of public justice by making allegations of police corruption to the press. The defence in this case was that allegations of police corruption were, in fact, true. Following service of an abuse of process argument and repeated requests for disclosure and review, the Crown offered no evidence on 21st January 2016. This case has received substantial media coverage.

R v TH – Woolwich CC – July 2015: Instructed to defend a carer of good character charged with assaulting her co-worker with a knife. Her defence was self- defence. During the trial, a juror overheard one of the witnesses discussing her evidence over the phone. The jury were discharged and at the fresh trial, called the juror as a witness for the defence. The defendant was found not guilty.

R v WF – Sheffield CC – May 2015: Led by Stephen Kamlish QC. Instructed to defend a man accused of possession of 1kg heroin and five firearms found by police in an allotment. The defendant alleged possible plant by South Yorkshire Police possibly involving a criminal gang in that area. The Crown adjourned the trial and discharged the jury mid-way through the case in order to investigate.  The Crown offered no evidence against the defendant in February 2016.

R v TA – Canterbury CC – June 2015: Instructed to defend a teacher charged with breaching the Data Protection Act by seeking to blow the whistle regarding concerns about the safeguarding of children at a school in which she worked. Following legal submissions, the Crown offered no evidence.

R v AN – Hammersmith Magistrates’ Court – June 2015: Instructed to defend a refugee charged with criminal damage to the Iranian embassy. The Crown could not provide the required evidence to prove identification and yet still proceeded to trial.  The Magistrates refused a submission of no case to answer and convicted the defendant. Following an application to state the case to the High Court, the Magistrates subsequently accepted that their conviction had been unsafe and reopened the conviction under s.142 Magistrates’ Court Act 1980. The Crown then offered no evidence and the defendant was found not guilty.

R v FTChelmsford CC – February 2015: Represented man charged with 49kg cocaine importation.  Following guilty plea and mitigation, achieved sentence of 10 years and four months.

R v DG and others – Exeter CC – January 2015: Instructed to defend second on an indictment of seven charged with a drug supply operation from London to Devon. The case revolved around telephone evidence. Following legal arguments raised regarding the use of that telephone material during the course of the evidence, the Crown offered no evidence against all defendants in the second week of the trial.

R v AW – Brighton Magistrates’ Court – July 2015: Instructed to defend a young man with Asperger’s’ syndrome charged with a racially aggravated public order offence. This resulted from a conversation which took place at a protest concerning the Israel/Palestine conflict. A submission of no case to answer was successful regarding the racially aggravated element of the offence. The defendant was acquitted at the close of all the evidence of the public order offence.

R v DJ and others – Westminster Magistrates’ Court – April 2014: Instructed to defend a member of the Anti-Fascist Movement charged with public order offences arising from a demonstration. Defendant acquitted.

R v RC – CCC – December 2014: Led by Tyrone Smith QC. Instructed to defend a man charged with murder resulting from a fight in an alley in Brixton. Defendant found not guilty of murder, guilty of manslaughter.

R v CDWoolwich CC – January 2014: Defendant 14-year-old boy of good character charged with knifepoint robbery.  Defendant acquitted.

R v KB – Stratford MC – November 2013: Successful abuse of process argument to stay proceedings in the Magistrates Court on the basis of the Crown’s repeated failures to comply with Court orders for the service of CCTV evidence which could have potentially exonerated the defendant.

Inquests

Catherine represents bereaved families at inquests, particularly those involving deaths in custody and those with mental health issues.

Recent cases have included:

Inquest touching on the death of LM: Liverpool Coroners’ Court – July 2015: Instructed to represent the family of LM, who died at HMP Liverpool by hanging.  Jury found that his death had been contributed to by the fact that the prison had miscalculated his sentence date, informing him that he had far longer to serve in prison than he actually had. The Coroner made a Regulation 28 Preventing Future Deaths Report on the issue of prison sentence calculation and first aid.

Inquest touching on the death of Eleanor De Freitas: West London Coroners’ Court – March 2015: Instructed to represent the De Freitas family with Leslie Thomas QC in relation to the death of their daughter, Eleanor de Freitas, who died shortly before her trial for perverting the course of justice, based upon a rape allegation which she had made. Represented the family in judicial review proceedings seeking to explore the role of the CPS prosecution in the events leading to Ms de Freitas’ death. The inquest received significant media coverage.

Inquest touching on the death of CA: Southwark Coroners’ Court – September 2014: Instructed to represent the family of CA who died after having been discharged from psychiatric hospital without any adequate treatment or management for his diabetes. Catherine successfully argued the engagement of Article 2 and achieved a neglect conclusion identifying multiple gross failures in his care. A Regulation 28 Prevention of Future Deaths Report was made into the role of the care co-ordinator when looking after vulnerable adults leaving psychiatric hospital.

Recent Court of Appeal cases have included:

R v HJ – August 2013: Successful appeal against a burglary conviction to the Court of Appeal based on the trial judge’s wrongful approach to footmark evidence at trial.

International Work

September–November 2015: Catherine worked in Zimbabwe as a Pegasus Scholar for the Inner Temple in 2015. In that time she assisted with the writing and editing of The Struggle Continues, a book about the history of human rights and political freedom in Zimbabwe over the last 60 years by David Coltart, a prominent human rights lawyer and opposition party MDC politician. In her time as a Pegasus Scholar, Catherine also assisted with death penalty cases.

March 2013: Catherine conducted observation of the trial of political dissidents in the UAE, focussing on the use of torture.

Background

Catherine taught criminal law to undergraduate level at City University from 2010-2011.

Catherine is committed to reaching out to vulnerable and disadvantaged people through her work. She volunteered at the Cambridge House Law Centre in Camberwell, assisting with advice in housing and employment law. She has also volunteered for a number of legal charities, including Liberty, where she worked as a legal advice and information volunteer and Reprieve, where she volunteered as a researcher.

Throughout university between 2006 and 2008, Catherine worked for the Sutton Trust, running summer schools to encourage young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to apply to higher education and Cambridge University in particular. In 2009, Catherine worked for the Ministry of Justice in a team developed to set up and support a panel to advise the Lord Chancellor on judicial diversity.

Scholarships and Prizes

  • Pegasus Scholar, Inner Temple (2015)
  • Major Scholar, Inner Temple (2010)
  • Princess Royal Scholar, Inner Temple (2009)
  • Inner Temple Internship Award (2011)
  • Inner Temple Wig and Gown Prize (2011)
  • Purvis Scholarship, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge (2006 and 2008)
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