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Tom Copeland

  • Call: 2013
Legal 500 UK Awards 2015: Winner


Tom is a committed criminal defence practitioner. He practises in all areas of criminal law at all levels from the Youth Court to the Court of Appeal.

He is regularly instructed in serious cases involving violence, drug supply, fraud, public disorder and sexual offences including historic rape allegations.

He has a reputation for gaining the trust and respect of clients. Due to his previous work he has particular experience working with vulnerable clients.

His experience in related areas of civil law such as civil actions against the police, inquests and immigration informs his approach to legal argument and disclosure in the criminal context.

Notable cases

Court of Appeal

R v Johnson (Wayne) [2017] EWCA Crim 189; [2017] 2 Cr. App. R. 6
Conveyance of List B or C articles into a prison: Authority on the court’s approach to knowledge in order to establish this offence.


R v FA, Harrow Crown Court (2018)
s.18 assault: Represented the first defendant in a multi-handed “joint enterprise” stabbing allegation. He was acquitted after a two week trial. 

R v MM, Reading Crown Court (2016)
Armed robbery: The 21 year old defendant was acquitted of an armed robbery with an imitation firearm at a mobile phone shop. The case involved cell-site, call data, ANPR and forensic evidence.

R v FM, Blackfriars Crown Court (2016)
s.18 assault: The defendant was accused of stabbing her husband’s ex-girlfriend. The prosecution collapsed following a number of disclosure requests.

R v
RO, Southwark Crown Court (2016)
Possession of an offensive weapon: The defendant driver was acquitted of common assault and possessing an offensive weapon (baseball bat) during a road rage incident. The case was reported nationally in the Metro. More information can be found on the Garden Court news page.

R v SO, Croydon Crown Court (2016)
Affray: The defendant had an eight-day trial in a multi-handed affray at a nightclub involving several bouncers. He was acquitted along with several co-defendants.

R v DM and another, Snaresbrook Crown Court (2015)
s.20 assault: The 19 year old defendant suffered from ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and Conduct Disorder. He was acquitted following a three-week trial.


R v FA, Swindon Crown Court (2017)
Supply of Class A drugs and s.18 assault: Young defendant from London accused of stabbing a rival drug dealer.

R v HM, Central Criminal Court (2016)
Supply of Class A drugs: The defendant was acquitted of supplying a kilo of cocaine on the basis that she had no knowledge of the enterprise. The case involved sensitive intelligence and a PII ruling.

R v KD and others, Exeter Crown Court (2015)
Conspiracy: Negotiated a basis of plea and obtained a sentence of 9 years 3 months’ imprisonment in a multi-million pound conspiracy to supply class A drugs where the defendant carried out a leading role. The case was reported by the BBC and local media.

R v F, Inner London Crown Court (2015)
Supply of drugs: Obtained a suspended custodial sentence following a guilty plea to supplying Class A drugs to enable a vulnerable defendant to undertake drug rehabilitation and receive mental health treatment.


R v LK, Croydon Crown Court (2017)
Immigration fraud: Led my Marguerite Russell during a six-week trial. The defendant was accused of leading a criminal gang arranging sham marriages between Lithuanian women and Non-EEA nationals.

R v CK, Guildford Crown Court (2016)
Conspiracy to burgle: It was alleged the defendant was involved in 14 domestic burglaries. The case involved cell-site and ANPR evidence and resulted in a hung jury.

R v N, Southwark Crown Court (2015)
Fraud and theft: The prosecution offered no evidence following a successful application to exclude the ID evidence of two police officers relating to a client alleged to have committed an ATM distraction theft.

Sexual offences

R v GH, Lewes Crown Court (2018)
Rape: A “Tinder rape” allegation involving a disabled complainant. The defendant was acquitted after arguing that it was consensual.

R v A, Maidstone Crown Court (2017)
Historic rape: Defendant was accused of several historic sexual offences dating back to the 1970’s.

R v MS, Harrow Crown Court (2017)
Rape: Represented the first defendant in an alleged gang rape of a sex worker. This case involved cross-examination of the complainant’s sexual history.

R v SZ, Birmingham Crown Court (2017)
Rape: A trial lasting seven days where the defendant taxi driver was accused of using drugs to facilitate the rape of a customer.

R v A, Wood Green Crown Court (2016)
Breach of SOPO and exposure: The judge excluded all identification evidence at trial based on police misconduct resulting in the prosecution dropping the case.

R v TW, Blackfriars Crown Court (2015)
Sexual assault: The defendant pleaded guilty to spraying semen on a female through a syringe on public transport. He received a suspended custodial sentence.


R v AS, Canterbury Crown Court (2017)
Violent disorder: The defendant was involved in an anti-facist protest in Dover that was the subject of significant media attention.

R v CH,
Snaresbrook Crown Court (2016)
Protest/Affray: A trial lasting several weeks involving the eviction of squatters by riot police triggering violence. The defendant was acquitted following a successful submission of no case to answer.


R v PW, Blackfriars Crown Court (2016)
Preventing the lawful burial of a body: The defendant received a lenient sentence in an emotive case involving the disposal of a body in a canal. The sentence hearing attracted significant media attention. 


R v FY, Reading Crown Court (2016)
A contested POCA trial resulting in a confiscation order of around £7,000 despite the prosecution seeking an order for around £800,000.

Background and Education

Tom completed his pupillage at Garden Court Chambers in 2014 and has quickly developed his own criminal practice beyond his year of call.

Before joining the Bar, he worked for several years in the legal and voluntary sector with a particular focus on the protection of human rights. He worked for the Asylum Support Appeals Project, Bar Pro Bono Unit and provided free advice at Croydon Law Centre. He volunteered as a refugee mentor with the Terrence Higgins Trust. He also spent a year living in rural Uganda working for an international NGO called Restless Development coordinating a sexual health programme for youths.

Tom studied law at Reading University, which included a year of study in France, and was awarded First Class Honours. He then obtained a LLM in Human Rights Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).

In 2012, he was awarded a Queen Mother Scholarship from Middle Temple.

In 2016, he was awarded a Criminal Bar Association Scholarship for excellence in advocacy.