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Tom Copeland

Year of Call: 2013

Tom is a specialist criminal defence barrister. He has experience as a led junior and junior alone in serious and complex cases. He is hard-working and has established a reputation for thorough case preparation, effective trial advocacy and excellent client care.


To get in touch:​ Or you can contact the relevant​ Practice Team Clerks directly and they will be happy to assist with your enquiry.

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Criminal Defence


Tom is a committed criminal defence barrister who is dedicated to the best interests of his client. He prepares cases meticulously, provides clients with clear, focused advice and is a persuasive advocate in court. 

He is regularly instructed in cases of varying size and complexity across all areas of crime including:

  • murder; 
  • serious violence;
  • modern slavery;
  • rape and serious sexual offences;
  • drug supply;
  • firearms;
  • fraud including associated confiscation proceedings;
  • public disorder. 

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.

He has appeared in court at all levels from the youth court to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division).

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 cited in Archbold and Blackstones on the court's approach to knowledge in order to establish this offence.

Serious violence

R v TN, Southampton Crown Court (2018)
Kidnap/false imprisonment: Defendant was accused of being involved in serious organised crime and using violence to take over a nightclub. He was acquitted after a one-week trial. 

R v FA, Harrow Crown Court (2018)
s.18 assault: First defendant in a multi-handed "joint enterprise" case lasting two weeks involving a client accused of stabbing someone at a house party.

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

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

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


R v DH, Inner London Crown Court (2019)
Firearms/Drug supply: The co-defendant ran a cut-throat defence suggesting the defendant forced him at gun-point to store loaded firearms. The defendant was acquitted after a two-week trial. 

R v MC, Wood Green Crown Court (2018)
Conspiracy to transfer firearms: Led junior during a six-week trial representing a 17-year-old accused of conspiring to provide firearms to gang members during a feud.

Modern slavery

R v IB, Birmingham Crown Court (2019)
People trafficking: Led junior representing the first defendant during a ten-week trial involving the “biggest modern-day slave ring”. The case involved a vast amount of evidence, complex legal arguments and was widely reported in the national and international media.

R v MM, Stafford Crown Court (2018)
People trafficking: Currently instructed as led junior for the first defendant in a large prosecution accusing several family members of modern slavery offences. 


R v FI, Cardiff Crown Court (2019)
Supply Class A drugs: Albanian male who ran a defence under the Modern Slavery Act that he had been a victim of trafficking into the UK. 

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.

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.

Sexual offences

R v BB, Harrow Crown Court (2018)
Rape: A judge found there was no case to answer in a case against an 18 year old accused of participating in the gang rape of a drug user.

R v GH, Lewes Crown Court (2018)
Rape: A "Tinder rape" allegation involving a disabled complainant. The defendant was acquitted after arguing that the sex 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 LK, Croydon Crown Court (2017)
Immigration fraud: Led junior 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 evidence and ANPR evidence. and resulted in a hung jury.


R v AS, Canterbury Crown Court (2017)
Violent disorder: The defendant was involved in an anti-fascist 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.

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Financial Crime and Confiscation


Tom is instructed in fraud cases of varying sizes including serious and complex fraud, money laundering and benefit fraud. He also accepts instructions in confiscation cases.

Notable Cases


R v JE, Southwark Crown Court (2018)
Fraud: Led junior in a case involving a large-scale boiler room fraud involving several companies and the sale of land.


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.

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Pro Bono Work

Before joining the Bar, Tom 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.

Contact Tom


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.

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

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


  • BPTC, BPP London (2013)
  • LLM Human Rights Law, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (2009)
  • LLB Law with French Law, 1st Class Hons, University of Reading (2007)

Professional Membership

  • Asylum Support Appeals Project
  • Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • Criminal Bar Association