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Catherine Oborne

Year of Call: 2011

“She works really hard and is a pleasure to deal with. She’s incredibly impressive, really dedicated and extremely bright.”

Chambers UK, 2020

"A powerhouse: clever, committed and a fighter who leaves no stone unturned."

Legal 500, 2020

"A great young barrister with a bright future who works amazingly hard."

Legal 500, 2019

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Catherine Oborne specialises in criminal defence, inquests and associated public law challenges.

She defends in a wide range of criminal cases including serious violence, serious drug supply, public disorder, protest, sexual offences and fraud. She 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.  

Criminal Defence

Overview

Catherine defends in a wide range of high-profile criminal cases including:

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

As a led junior, she is regularly instructed in complex cases involving homicide, terrorism and offences against public justice. Recent significant cases have included complex legal issues involving anonymous witnesses, closed proceedings due to national security considerations, and witnesses from MI5 giving evidence.

Notable Cases

Terrorism 

R v MAI and another – CCC -June and December 2018: Led by QC. Defendant was the associate of another who had plotted to attack the prime minister, Teresa May. Defendant accused of intending to travel to ISIS territory in Syria / Libya.   Convicted after retrial and sentenced to 8 ½ years extended sentence with extended licence period of 3 1/2 years.  

R v REH and another – CCC - October 2017-January 2018: Led by QC. Defended a female defendant who was charged with plotting a terrorist attack with her co-defendant who she had met on an online dating website.  Convicted.  Sentenced to extended sentence of 12 years plus 5 years on licence.  

R v NA and others – CCC - February-August 2017: Led by QC. Defending one of four defendants charged with plotting a terrorist attack in Birmingham. This case involved undercover officers and witnesses from MI5 giving evidence.  Convicted after trial and sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years.   

R v MA – CCC – April 2016: Led by QC. Represented defendant charged with the dissemination of material supportive of terrorist activities. Pleaded Guilty and sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. 

Homicide 

R v AL – CCC – September-October 2019: Led by QC.  Defended a young man charged with double murder arising from a gang related stabbing in Leytonstone.  The Defendant had left the country shortly after the murders and remained away for five years.  During this time, four of his friends/associates were convicted of the double murder.  On his returned, he denied presence at the scene of the murder.  Acquitted.   

R v IM – CCC – March-May 2019: Led by QC.  Defended a young male involved in group violence in a London park which resulted in the death of one man and the serious injury of another.  Acquitted of manslaughter and convicted of violent disorder.  

R v PR – CCC - February-March 2019: Led by QC. Defended a 73 year old woman charged with murder. She killed her husband following 36 years of abuse.  First case of its kind following the Sally Challen judgment on coercive and controlling behaviour.  Successfully argued the relevance of the deceased’s coercive and controlling behaviour to the jury’s considerations. Acquitted of murder.  Pleaded Guilty to manslaughter.   

R v CE – CCC – June 2016: Led by QC - Defendant was a Hackney drug dealer who had shot and killed the Deceased in an alleged dispute over a mobile telephone drugs line.  The evidence demonstrated that the Defendant’s life was under threat from the Deceased.  Defendant was found not guilty of murder and convicted of manslaughter and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.  Sentenced to 18 years determinate.     

R v C – CCC – March 2016: Led by 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 RC – CCC – December 2014: Led by 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.

Serious Violence 

R v AB – Oxford CC – May and September 2018: Defended a vulnerable former homeless man charged with attacking another vulnerable former homeless man in his supported accommodation block along with another defendant.  Cut throat defence. Acquitted of s.18.  Co-Defendant convicted of s.18. Convicted of s.20 following a retrial.    

R v ST – Blackfriars CC – February 2016: Defended male charged with street robbery of female acquaintance.  Defence was that this was a dispute about money not a robbery.  Defendant acquitted.   

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 CD – Woolwich CC – January 2014: Defended 14-year-old boy of good character charged with knifepoint robbery.  Defendant acquitted.

Drug Supply 

R v WF – Sheffield CC – May 2015: Led by 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 FT – Chelmsford 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.

Offences Against Public Justice 

R v PB – Croydon CC – January 2019: Defendant charged with conspiracy to evade immigration control.  Defence was that he thought he was bringing relative into the UK legally.  Acquitted.  

R v Bhadresh Gohil – Southwark CC – January 2016: Led by 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. 

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.

Fraud 

R v SB – Leeds CC – May 2018: Defendant charged with conspiracy to defraud and other associated offences.  Major police operation in relation to individuals posing as police officers and seeking to defraud elderly people of their savings. Crown offered no evidence against Defendant.  

R v SN – Southwark CC – April 2016: Led.  Defendant charged with fraud in relation to false claims for employment support being made on behalf of ex army servicemen and women.  Acquitted following legal argument.  

R v SN – Oxford CC – September 2016: Defendant charged with benefit fraud over a period of many years.  Acquitted.    

Sexual Offences 

R v SA – Chelmsford CC – July 2019: Represented defendant charged with possession of indecent images of children following a Schedule 7 airport stop.  Following service of expert report and skeleton argument, Crown offered no evidence.   

R v AB – Cardiff CC – February 2018: Represented defendant charged with indecent images offences.  Following service of defence expert report on analysis of computer, Crown offered no evidence.  

R v TV – Blackfriars CC – January 2018: Represented defendant charged with sexual assault of a trainee police officer on a bus.  Acquitted.  

R v KJ – Croydon CC – February 2017:  Represented a young defendant charged with sexual assault.  The Crown wished to rely on a previous sexual assault conviction from the Magistrates’ Court.  Having analysed the CCTV footage in of the incident, it did not support the complainant’s account and applied for appeal to the Crown Court out of time.  Appeal was heard and a submission of no case to answer was upheld.  The Crown offered no evidence in relation to the other allegation due to disclosure review requested by the defence which undermined the complainant and eye witness’s credibility in relation to their accounts of the incident.  

Public Order

R v KHA – Harrow CC – October 2016:  Defended man charged with racially aggravated public order offence and common assault.  Defendant acquitted at close of prosecution case of the racially aggravated offence and acquitted of common assault by the jury at the close of the case.  

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. 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 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.

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Criminal Appeals

Overview

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

Notable Cases

R v HJ – August 2013 - Successful appeal against a burglary conviction to the Court of Appeal based on the wrongful approach to expert evidence at trial.   

R v Gohil [2018] 1 WLR 3697 – Application to reopen an appeal against conviction on the basis of prosecution misconduct.  Appeal defined the scope of the jurisdiction of the Court to reopen applications for leave which have been previously determined.  Led by QC.  

R v Asiedu [2015] EWCA Crim 714Appeal against conviction for terrorism offence which defined the scope of the abuse of process jurisdiction.  Application for leave dismissed.  Led by QC.  

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Inquests and Inquiries

Overview

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

Notable Cases

Inquest touching on the death of baby Lucia Stear: Liverpool Coroners Court, September 2019
Inquest arising out of the tragic death of a baby.  The mother was pregnant and driving along a road on the Wirral.  A tree branch fell into the road and fell directly onto her car impacting her abdomen.  Tragically the baby died shortly after she was born due to the injuries sustained.  Highly critical findings made by the jury in relation to the Council’s tree management system which had not inspected the trees in that area for at least 13 years.   

Inquest touching on the death of JS: Aberdare Coroners Court, October 2017
Represented family of JS who died in HMP Parc. JS was under observation at the time of his death due to concerns about his mental health. However, the officer in charge inaccurately recorded that he was completing a jigsaw puzzle when in fact he was not visible on CCTV in his cell. He was found dead in his cell later that night.  Jury returned a critical narrative conclusion.  

Inquest touching on the death of SR: Ipswich Coroners Court, July 2016
Represented the family of SR who died after self harm in HMP Blundeston. Jury returned critical narrative conclusion recording neglect of SR by the prison in failing to care for him adequately after he had self harmed by cutting himself and bleeding profusely. 

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. Coroner made 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.  

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. Discharged into the community without any adequate treatment or management for his diabetes. Successfully argued the engagement of Article 2 and achieved a neglect conclusion. Regulation 28 Prevention of Future Deaths Report made into the role of the care coordinator when looking after vulnerable adults leaving psychiatric hospital.  

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Background

Catherine aught criminal law to undergraduate level from 2010-2011.

Catherine volunteered at the Cambridge House Law Centre in a disadvantaged area of Camberwell, assisting with advice in housing and employment law. She has also volunteered for a number of legal charities, including Liberty, where worked as a legal advice and information volunteer and Reprieve, where volunteered as a researcher.

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

Catherine worked in Zimbabwe as a Pegasus Scholar for the Inner Temple in 2015. During this time, she also assisted with death penalty cases and 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 2013, Catherine conducted an observation of the trial of political dissidents in the UAE, focusing on the use of torture.

In 2009, she 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.

Publications

Catherine 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 there.

Training and Seminars

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

Awards

Catherine has won a number of 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)

Latest News

Abdul Lounici found Not Guilty of double murder

James Scobie QC and Catherine Oborne of Garden Court were instructed by Nawal Asskoumi of Stuart Miller Solicitors, represented by Abdul Lounici. Lounici was acquitted by the jury on 17th October 2019.

21 October 2019

Catherine Oborne and Ifeanyi Odogwu shortlisted for Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Awards 2018

We're delighted to announce that Catherine Oborne and Ifeanyi Odogwu have both been shortlisted in the Newcomer category of the LALYs. 

2 May 2018

Jury identified systematic failures in relation to suicide and self harm management in a G4S run prison

INQUEST has been working with Jagjeet Samra's family since July 2016. The family is represented by Catherine Oborne...

27 October 2017

Garden Court hosts book launch for Zimbabwean human rights lawyer David Coltart

Catherine Oborne of Garden Court worked on the legal aspects of the book in 2015.

7 November 2016

Garden Court and Stephanie Harrison QC shortlisted for Human Rights and Public Law awards

Garden Court has been shortlisted at the Chambers Bar Awards, whilst Stephanie and our Public Law Team are shortlisted at the Legal 500 Awards.

21 October 2016

17-year-old boy not guilty of murder

James Scobie QC and Catherine Oborne of Garden Court Chambers represented the defendant.

4 April 2016

Trial collapses after CPS accused of covering up Metropolitan Police corruption

Stephen Kamlish QC and Catherine Oborne defended Mr Gohil, who was charged with making false allegations of police corruption.

25 January 2016

Garden Court wins Legal 500 crime set of the year award

The winners in these awards are chosen by the Legal 500 as a result of thousands of interviews with firms, sets and counsel.

8 October 2015

Voting Yes in the Criminal Bar Association Ballot

Sam Parham, Jo Cecil and Catherine Oborne of the Garden Court Chambers Crime Team urge the undecided to vote yes in the Criminal Bar Association ballot.

14 July 2015

Inquest into the death of Eleanor de Freitas

The family was represented by Leslie Thomas QC and Catherine Oborne, both of Garden Court Chambers.

18 March 2015

Young man cleared of murder whilst his co-defendant girlfriend is cleared of perverting the course of justice

The defendants were represented by Catherine Oborne, Nerida Harford-Bell and Sam Parham.

7 January 2015

Inquest finds neglect contributed to death of highly vulnerable man with mental illness

Catherine Oborne, representing the family, also secured a Preventing Future Deaths report.

13 October 2014

Defendant with Asperger syndrome acquitted of all charges

Catherine Oborne represents defendant in racially aggravated harassment case.

12 September 2014

Defendant acquitted for calling police officer a Taff

Mr Davis, represented by Sam Parham and Catherine Oborne, cleared of racially aggravated harassment.

8 September 2014

All related news

Education

  • MA, Theology and Religious Studies, Cambridge University - Double First
  • GDL, City University - Distinction
  • BPTC, City University - Outstanding

Professional Membership

  • Criminal Bar Association (CBA)
  • INQUEST
  • Liberty
  • Bar Human Rights Committee

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