Julia specialises in representing mentally disordered offenders. She is a well-established and acknowledged expert in this specialist area of criminal practice. She combines this with sitting as a Judge in the Mental Health Tribunal.
She has been instructed in recent years in a number of high-profile homicide and attempted homicide trials where the issue has been diminished responsibility and/or insanity. However, she is equally interested in and committed to the many lower-profile cases she is regularly instructed in, where particular psychiatric issues such as fitness to plead, effective participation, or insanity arise to be considered, or evidential and sentencing issues relating to a defendant’s mental disorder.
Julia represents defendants of all ages and those with a wide variety of mental disorders, most regularly the major mental illnesses (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Affective Disorder, Depression) as well as learning disability, autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, personality disorders, and dementia. By way of example, this year she has represented a 15-year-old boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who faced trial in respect of historic sex offences, and a 72-year-old woman with persistent delusional disorder who faced an allegation of attempting to murder her husband.
Julia had a varied and successful general criminal defence practice at the Bar for 20 years before specialising in her chosen area. Consequently, she has a wealth of experience and is highly regarded by solicitors. She receives regular praise and thanks from her professional and lay clients and their families for her sensitivity, and for her clear explanations of the complex legal and medical issues which arise in many of her cases.
She has had extensive experience of working with psychiatrists (including delivering training to London trainee forensic practitioners) and is well placed to advise solicitors on the choice and instruction of experts.
R v Ferguson
The defendant, who suffered from Paranoid Schizophrenia, was charged with attempted murder. He had pushed a stranger onto the tracks of an oncoming tube train. He was sentenced to a hospital order under s.37/41 Mental Health Act.
R v Silcott
The defendant stabbed a neighbour in a frenzied and unprovoked attack when suffering a psychotic episode. Found by a jury to be not guilty by reason of insanity.
R v A
The defendant, who was 15, stabbed and killed his mother when experiencing a first psychotic episode. Found by a jury to be not guilty by reason of insanity
R v L
16-year-old defendant with conduct disorder charged with attempted murder committed during the course of burglary. Victim suffered severe and life-threatening injuries. Acquitted of attempted murder, guilty of s.18 wounding .
Mentally disordered offenders
Court of Appeal
R v Smith
Defendant with autism and undiagnosed Paranoid Schizophrenia who had been sentenced to IPP for s.18 wounding. Leave granted to appeal out of time; sentence quashed, and hospital orders under s.37/41 MHA substituted.
R v Paraskeva
20-year-old defendant who had been sentenced to IPP for arson committed whilst an inpatient in a psychiatric unit. Sentence quashed on appeal, and hospital orders under s.37/41 substituted. Publicity campaign `Justice for Joe’ run by his mother received considerable press coverage at the time.
R v L
16-year-old defendant with conduct disorder found guilty by jury of s.18 wounding and sentenced to extended sentence (12 years with a four-year extension periods). 12 years reduced to 10 by the Court of Appeal on the basis that the sentencing judge had taken insufficient account of the defendant’s background and mental health difficulties.
R v B
Defendant with Bipolar Affective Disorder charged with aggravated arson of his own flat. Found not guilty by reason of insanity; disposal was a supervision order.
R v K
Defendant has paranoid schizophrenia. Charged with aggravated arson of block of flats and two vehicles (extensive damage caused). Sentenced to hospital orders under s.37/41 MHA.
R v A
Defendant with Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy, charged with child neglect. After protracted proceedings, found unfit to plead, at which point the Crown offered no evidence.
R v D
26-year-old defendant with learning disability charged with making indecent images. Crown persuaded to offer no evidence as a result of strong representations and a favourable psychologist’s report as to his level of understanding.
R v R
72-year-old woman suffering from mental disorder who was originally charged with attempted murder of her partner with a hammer. Crown accepted a plea to s.20 and she was sentenced to s.37 MHA hospital order.
R v A
Defendant, who had long-standing mental health problems, charged with stabbing her neighbour with a pair of hairdressing scissors. Acquitted by jury after 20 minutes’ deliberation.
A wider selection of Julia’s notable cases can be found here.
Julia is the co-author of the second edition of Advising Mentally Disordered Offenders (Law Society Publishing 2009).
She is also a contributor to the Elderly Client Handbook (5th edition, 2016), as author of the sections on victims of crime, and criminal responsibility.
Julia has sat as a part-time Judge in the Mental Health Tribunal since her appointment in 2003.
This year she has been invited to be a member of the newly-convened Justice working party on mental health and fair trials: https://justice.org.uk/
In 2015 she contributed to the work of the Big Voice London Model Law Commission Report on reform of the law on insanity and automatism.
Julia has had extensive experience as a lecturer and trainer, and after the publication of her book Advising Mentally Disordered Offenders has delivered regular training to criminal solicitors on the topic. In 2014 she was asked to participate in a seminar run by the Brain Injury Group (largely claimant PI/medical negligence solicitors) and ran a session on the particular difficulties when acting in criminal proceedings for a defendant with traumatic or acquired brain injury.
In 2102-13 she acted as a mentor to the criminal justice worker at the mental health charity Rethink.
Julia originally trained as a solicitor at Bindman & Partners. After a few years working as a freelance solicitor advocate she transferred to the Bar, joining the chambers of Anthony Shaw QC at 4 Brick Court in 1992, then Cloisters (Chambers of Laura Cox QC) before joining Garden Court in 2000.
She is a life-long Londoner and has lived in Brixton for many years.