Viewing: Crime for Tom Schofield

‘Fiercely independent; highly motivated and professional; and with a single-minded approach to his clients’ interests’, Tom is considered a persuasive and formidable advocate by his clients and peers alike.
Tom was described by the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, (Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, PC), as making ‘attractive and measured submissions’ and advancing his arguments ‘eloquently’ in a complex sentencing appeal. He was commended by the former Vice President of the Criminal Divi-sion of the Court of Appeal (Lady Justice Hallett, DBE PC) for leading the submissions in a complex 6 appellant appeal against conviction. He was complimented by Lord Justice Haddon-Cave for his ‘able’ submissions in an application to lift reporting restrictions, in a complex and high-profile case. And was praised by the current Lord Chief Justice (Lord Burnett of Maldon, PC) for his succinct and powerful submissions in a successful appeal against a wasted costs order made against a solicitor. Tom is con-sidered a rising star.
He is a specialist criminal and regulatory practitioner, with a nationwide practice and a proven track record of success.
Tom’s strength lies in his complete commitment to every case in which he is involved. He moves be-tween the criminal and civil jurisdictions effortlessly; has a meticulous approach to preparation; is al-ways prepared to go the extra mile; and places great emphasis on winning the trust of his clients and treating them with respect.
Tom has been instructed in a wide range of criminal cases as leading and junior counsel, including: fraud and money laundering; serious financial crimes and insider trading; complex drugs conspiracies; homicides - including corporate manslaughter (on which Tom has lectured); organised crime and in-ternational firearms trafficking; modern slavery; terrorism; and serious sexual offences. Tom has a par-ticular expertise in in cases of fraud (including missing trader intra community frauds, cyber-frauds, and diversion frauds). Tom’s previous fraud cases involved: a £100 million alcohol diversion and ex-cise fraud; attacks on the Carbon Credit registries of the United Nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Spain; and a control word sharing fraud on Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers worth over £50 million. Tom also accepts instructions in civil frauds.
Tom is a former Treasury Counsel monitoree. The origins of Treasury Counsel are steeped in history. As long ago as 1834, there was a plan to appoint full-time public prosecutors at the Central Criminal Court (the Old Bailey) although it was not until 1879 that two counsel had been appointed to prosecute full-time for the Crown. In 1888, the then Attorney General recommended to the Departmental Committee on the legal business of Government that the number of Treasury Counsel be increased. Today, there are usually sixteen Treasury Counsel based at the Central Criminal Court, divided into two groups of eight Senior and eight Junior Treasury Counsel. During Tom’s two-year tenure as a monitoree, he prosecuted homicides at the Old Bailey and frequently acted for Her Majesty’s Attorney General and Solicitor General in sentence cases referred to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) for being unduly lenient.
Tom is a Level 4 prosecutor – one of the youngest ever to have reached that rank. He is security cleared by the government, and as such is able to accept instructions in cases involving offences affect-ing national security or the disclosure of material affecting national security. Tom has also been in-structed by the CPS to provide pre-charge advice and authorise charges in respect of some of the most serious cases dealt with by the Public Protection Unit. Tom has also been instructed by the CPS Ap-peals Unit to review ‘cold cases’ or where there has been an application for permission to appeal many years ‘out of time’.
Tom has experience of advising in respect of, and conducting private prosecutions.
Regulatory, Professional Discipline & Quasi Crime
In the last 10 years, regulation of the private sector has grown exponentially. Cases involving alleged breaches of regulatory codes or professional discipline demand the best advocates because the stakes are so high. Tom’s experience of prosecuting and defending in some of the most complex and grave criminal cases, has endowed him with the essential skills which clients demand in cases involving regu-latory breaches, professional discipline or quasi-crime: premier advocacy; tactical awareness; forensic interrogation of telecommunications, banking, or accounting material; and extensive knowledge of court rules and procedure. He offers the complete package to clients in cases concerning the following matters:
• Prosecutions brought by BIS, Trading Standards, DWP, SFO, HSE, FCA etc;
• Breaches of Regulatory Codes (Trading Standards, Food Standards, Trademarks, Health and Safety, Noise Abatement);
• Director Disqualification;
• Professional Discipline (Police, Medical professions, Pharmaceutical, Accountancy, etc) - see MISCONDUCT PROFILE;
• First Tier Tax Tribunals;
• Data Protection Digital Security;
• Sports law (Tribunals);
• Money Laundering/ Bribery Regulations;
• Motoring law (unfair disqualifications; technical defences to road traffic offences);
• Costs appeals; and
• Inquests
Investigatory Powers Tribunal
Tom has particular expertise in proceedings before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal. The IPT is a unique Tribunal which has exclusive jurisdiction to hear certain complaints against the Security Ser-vices, the National Crime Agency, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, and police forces in respect of covert surveillance, telephone interception, and device interference.
He is currently instructed by one of the lead complainants in the conjoined ‘EncroChat’ case in which complaint is made about the warrants obtained by the National Crime Agency to source communica-tions data intercepted by the French Gendarmerie. EncroChat was a messaging platform which used end-to-end encryption, and which was suspected to be a criminally-dedicated network used exclusively by organised criminal groups.
Tom has also been involved in IPT complaints concerning: the obtaining of a search warrant with the alleged ulterior motive of taking the opportunity to place a covert listening device (a probe) in a home, without informing the Court granting the warrant of the ulterior motive; and directed and intrusive surveillance allegedly conducted without appropriate authorisations.
Tom has a particular interest in appeals (primarily to the Court of Appeal, but also to the UK Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights, and including judicial review and case stated) and fre-quently advises on appealing against wrongful convictions; excessive sentences; and unfair confiscation orders – often where he was not original trial counsel. Tom has also previously acted for Her Majesty’s Attorney General in references to the Court of Appeal under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. He has considerable experience in the Court of Appeal, and has been involved in many reported cases. A small selection includes:
R v Neophytou and Neophytou [2021] EWCA Crim 169
An appeal against the making of a multi-million pound hidden assets confiscation order, on the basis that: the learned judge at first instance miscalculated the benefit figure by extrapolating the turnover of two illicit busi-nesses from just 6 days of footfall data from one of those businesses; failed to give due regard to the delay in the proceedings; wrongly increased the confiscation order to reflect the change in value of money, when the money had not been wholly retained; and imposed an unfair de-fault term. Tom is conducting an appeal against the Court of Appeal’s judgment, to the Euro-pean Court of Human Rights; and a judicial review against the enforcement of the confiscation order;
R v Paul Dunleavy [2021] EWCA Crim 39
Appeal against convictions for terrorism offenc-es. The judge at first instance had withdrawn from the jury the only defence (reasonable excuse under section 58(3) of the Terrorism Act 2000) to offences of collecting documents likely to be useful to a terrorist, in a case where the Appellant was 16 years old and suffering from Asper-gers Syndrome (High Functioning Autism) – a symptom of which can be highly focused, ob-sessive interests in guns. Moreover, the trial judge rejected the submission that in an offence of preparing to commit a terrorist act, the jury had to be unanimous as to whether the Defendant intended to commit an act of terrorism himself or intended to assist another to do so.
Re. Sadhana Soni (a solicitor) [2019] EWCA Crim 1304
Successfully defended a solicitor who was made the subject of a substantial wasted costs order by the Recorder of Leicester. The solicitor, who was not involved in criminal proceedings, made a request for information about a criminal case in the Crown Court so that it could be used in civil proceedings against the de-fendant. The court declined the request and then issued a wasted costs order in respect of the time it had taken the parties to respond to the request. The Lord Chief Justice agreed with Tom’s argument that the solicitor and her clients had not been parties to the criminal proceed-ings and so quashed the wasted costs order.
Bapinder Sandhu v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2019] EWHC 3316 (Admin)
Represented the Applicant in an appeal by way of case stated. The applicant was found with over £50,000 in cash. The police made an application to forfeit the cash on the ba-sis that on a balance of probabilities, it derived from some form of predicate crime and was go-ing to be laundered in the future. The issue in the appeal was whether the police were required to identify the class of predicate crime;
R v Lewis Poyser and others [2017] EWCA Crim 800
Defended 4 appellants in a post-R v Jogee appeal. The Appellants were convicted on the basis of parasitic accessorial liability by con-tinuing to be involved in a kidnapping whilst foreseeing the possibility that the principal of-fender might wound the victim with intent, in order to reinforce the ransom demands in a way which was demonstrable to the victim’s family. R v Jogee decided that the doctrine of parasitic accessorial liability was the result of a ‘wrong turning’ in the law and that a secondary party must share the intent of the principal (foresight alone being insufficient and merely evidence of intent). Tom argued that when viewed in the context of the law as it now stands, the appellants’ convictions must be unsafe. Much of the argument in the hearing centered on whether the ap-pellants should be given leave to appeal and whether they had suffered substantial injustice;
R v HM [2017] [reporting restrictions apply]
Successfully overturned a conviction for an ap-pellant alleged to be involved a multi-million pound money laundering arrangement. Millions of pounds in Sterling was deposited with the Defendant and others, and then transferred to a Hawala banker who in turn transferred the money to Iran. The Defendant claims that the mon-ey had a legitimate origin and had been raised by ex-patriate Kurds in the UK, to send back to Kurds in Iran who are currently facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Is-lamic State (Daesh). Tom argued that the learned trial judge had undermined his own direc-tions to the jury at the conclusion of the case, such that the Court could not be sure that the ju-ry had safely convicted;
R v Alan Evans [2015]
Application for permission to appeal against a conviction for murder. The Applicant was convicted of murdering his wife by throwing her down a flight of stairs and then smothering her to death. He claimed at trial that the death had been caused as a result of a tragic accident. Post conviction, material was disclosed/ discovered which (it was argued) could give rise to the possibility that a third party intruder was responsible for the death;
R v Ajaz Budi [2015] EWCA Crim 35
Successful appeal against conviction and sentence, on the basis of a biased summing up;
R v Wheaton and Tumara [2014] EWCA Crim 1667
Proper application of the sentencing guidelines for drugs offences where there has been a reclassification of the drugs between the commission of the offence and sentence;
R v Swinbourne [2013] EWCA Crim 2329 (2014) 178 J.P. 34
The admissibility of confes-sions in ‘did he do the act’ hearings;
R v Ziarat Mahmood [2013] EWCA Crim 1291
A post R v Waya case. Successfully obtained the return of £50,000 to a defendant who had been made the subject of an unfair and dispro-portionate confiscation order based on giving inaccurate income information in a mortgage application; and
Tom is regularly asked to review cases in which he was not involved at first instance, to advise on any potential points of appeal. Tom has had considerable success in such appeals.
Confiscation, Asset Recovery and Cash Forfeiture
25% of Tom’s practice is taken up with confiscation matters. He advises on potential challenges to re-straint orders and confiscation orders, and regularly appears in the Court of Appeal concerning such matters. Tom has been at the forefront of challenges to the draconian POCA confiscation regime. Long before the Supreme Court decided in the landmark authority of R v Waya (2013) 1 AC 294 that the mortgage advance in a case of mortgage fraud, could not be considered a part of the defendant’s benefit from his criminal conduct, Tom argued the exact same point in an application to the Court of Appeal, in R v Ziarat Mahmood [2013] EWCA Crim 1291. Initially, the Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal but later granted leave (after R v Waya reached the Supreme Court) and accepted that Tom’s argument was right all along. That decision resulted in the defendant being repaid £50,000 by the confiscation authorities. Tom was also involved in the trial which later resulted in the landmark confiscation authority of R (Respondent) v Fields and others [2014] UKSC 36 in which the Su-preme Court settled the issue over apportionment and enforcement of confiscation orders in multi handed conspiracies. Tom was also involved in a recent post R v Guraj [2016] UKSC 65 appeal – in Guraj, the Supreme Court gave guidance on how to deal with a failure by the Crown Court to make a confiscation order within the 2 years’ ‘permitted period’.
The provisions of the Serious Crime Act 2015 (SCA) which came into force in June 2015, made certain amendments to the rights of third parties to confiscation proceedings, and to the Court’s obligations to such parties. The amended section 10A(2), Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), now provides for in-dividuals who claim to have a third party interest in the assets of respondents to confiscation applica-tions, to make representations at the hearing and to be represented by counsel. Prior to this change in the law, third parties had no right to be heard in confiscation hearings and could only assert their inter-est in property owned by a respondent, at the enforcement stage – although, in R v Hilton (Respond-ent) (Northern Ireland) [2020] UKSC 29 the Supreme Court preserved the right of interested third parties to assert their interest at the enforcement stage, if not considered at the time of the making of a confiscation order. SCA 2015 also created a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) by third parties, in the event of the Court refusing or failing to permit a third party to make representa-tions to the Court concerning his interests (see section 31(5)(b), POCA 2002).
Tom regularly accepts instructions from clients with third party interests.
Tom has extensive experience in the field of cash forfeiture, account freezing and forfeiture orders and unexplained wealth orders. A couple of Tom’s recent cases include:
X v The Commissioners of police of the Metropolis (2021)
Tom led the defence team in the biggest account forfeiture order application in English legal history. The team successfully negotiated the return of over £3 million to the client;
Bapinder Sandhu v The Chief Constable of West Midlands Police [2019] EWHC 3316 (Admin)
Tom has lectured widely on asset recovery and corporate compliance responsibilities in respect of money laundering:
• Money Laundering, Bribery & Asset Recovery seminar (New Delhi, India);
• GCS 9th Annual AML convention [Compliance & Financial Crime Conference/ Proceeds of Crime Legislation in the UK] (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands).
Tom is part of a network of European lawyers that frequently collaborate in cross-border cases; inter-national investigations; and cases brought as a result of the use of Joint Investigation Teams. The net-work includes some of the leading lawyers in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates, India, and certain Caribbean islands. Tom has used the network successfully in several of his cases, and is able to provide referral advice to clients facing proceedings aboard, or facing proceedings in the UK based on evidence obtained abroad.
Tom has recently been instructed in a case before the International Criminal Court, sitting at The Hague, which tried defendants accused of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggres-sion.
Tom also accepts instructions in extradition matters.
Public/ Direct Access
An increasing number of Tom’s clients choose to instruct him directly. They do so because they can obtain the best advice at an early stage of the proceedings. Also, because many cases which begin as public access later require litigators, Tom is able to give clients the best independent advice on which solicitors to instruct.
Notable Cases
R v CM (2021)
Defendant accused of conspiracy to commit armed home invasions. Tom persuaded the judge to stop the case at the conclusion of the Prosecution case.
X v The Commissioners of police of the Metropolis (2021)
Tom led the defence team in the biggest account forfeiture order application in English legal history. The team successfully negotiated the return of over £3 million to the client.
R v PD (2020)
Defended in a terrorism trial involving a 16 year old boy who was alleged to be in the process of making a home-made gun with the intention of committing an act of terrorism.
Operation Rokeby (2020)
Prosecuted 3 defendants in a murder trial at the Old Bailey.
R v VN (2020)
Defended in a large fraud trial. The defendant was accused of obtaining personal details from PayPal which were then used to place numerous orders for high value goods.
Operation Rauch (2019)
Prosecuted in a murder trial at the Old Bailey.
R v SS (2019)
Defended in a case involving the importation of 500kg of Cocaine and an equivalent quantity of Cannabis, Ketamine and Hexedrone.
R v AK (2019)
Defended in a case involving the alleged murder of 5 people who were killed when a shop was blown up for the purposes of making a fraudulent insurance claim.
R v KP (2018)
Defended in a case involved slavery and exploitation. Over 30 alleged victims claimed that the defendant had brought them to the UK so that they could be put to work in factories.
R v JC (2018)
Defended in a multi-defendant case involving an allegation of conspiracy to supply industrial quantities of Cocaine from the Midlands to the South Coast. Tom successfully applied to stay the indictment as an abuse of process on the basis of bad faith and misconduct by the police, and fundamental disclosure failures. Had the client been convicted, he would have received a sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment;
R v SP (2018)
Defended in a case involving unauthorized access to police intelligence computer systems where it was alleged that the information obtained had been supplied to a criminal suspect. Tom secured a suspended sentence for the client, for an offence which normally attracts an immediate prison sentence;
R v AK (2018)
Defended in a multi-defendant child sexual grooming and rape case, involving multiple alleged child victims. Tom secured an outright acquittal on all counts;
R v IS (2018)
Defended in a multi-defendant rape case. The issues raised by Tom regarding disclosure of the telecommunications evidence seized by the investigating officers, drove the prosecution to drop the case;
R v GT (2018)
Defending in a multi-defendant case involving allegations of attempted murder and the wide-spread outbreak of disorder in Leicester city center between members of the Somalian com-munity and members of a different ethnic community. An extremely complex case involving significant telecommunications analysis;
R v JA (2018)
Defending in a multi-defendant case involving the commercial sale of firearms to drug dealers;
R v CP (2018)
Defended a 17 year old boy accused of attempted murder and rape. He was alleged to have at-tacking a student walking home at night through a park, and raping her vaginally and anally (following a period of planning in which he had searched the internet for violent pornography). He was alleged to have then attempting to murder her by bludgeoning her to the head with a paving slab which he had brought to the scene for that purpose. The case was tried by the Honourable Mr Justice Haddon-Cave, who praised the powerful yet sensitive way in which the defence had been presented;
R v AS (2018)
Representing Her Majesty’s Attorney General in a reference to the Court of Appeal in a case where the offender had committed a robbery against a pregnant cashier, pretending that he had a knife, assaulted bystanders, and yet received a ‘deferred sentence’;
R v AK (2018)
Defended in a ‘cross border’ grooming case, involving multiple child complainants;
R v HM (2018)
Leading counsel (defending) in a case involving a multi-million pound money laundering ar-rangement using the Hawala banking system. Millions of pounds in Sterling was deposited with the Defendant and others, and then transferred to a Hawala banker who in turn transferred the money to Iran. The Defendant claimed that he believed the money had a legitimate origin and had been raised by ex-patriate Kurds in the UK, to send back to Kurds in Iran who are current-ly facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). The de-fendant was convicted in the first trial, but Tom managed to persuade the Court of Appeal to overturn the conviction, on the basis of faults in the legal directions given by the judge to the jury. When the case was listed for retrial, a compromise was reached which resulted in a non-custodial sentence and no confiscation proceedings;
R v SH (2017)
Defending (led by Orlando Pownall QC) one of the principal defendants in an alleged conspir-acy to import up to 500kg of heroin into the UK secreted in lathes. Said to be a case involving the most complex telecommunications analysis by the country’s leading cell site analyst;
R v SR (2017)
Defended in a multi-kilo drug trafficking case. After Tom’s cross examination of the Prosecu-tion telecommunications expert, the Prosecution was forced to drop an allegation against the Defendant which involved a conspiracy to supply up to 60kg of Cocaine;
R v BP (2017)
Defended in a case involving a multimillion pound money laundering arrangement. Sham com-panies were set up and invoices fabricated to provide the appearance of legitimacy when £40 million in cash was deposited with money service bureaux and transferred to India. Complex issues concerning corporate regulation;
R v OO (2016)
Defended in a case alleging the management of a highly successful and profitable brothel called ‘Libra’ in Birmingham. The Prosecution’s evidence was that the brothel had been run responsi-bly; that underage or trafficked girls had not been employed; that no drugs were sold or used at the brothel; and that there had been considerable co-operation between the owners of the brothel and the police. It was argued that the Prosecution of the defendants was unfair and op-pressive; that the police had known that Libra was a brothel and had conducted monthly wel-fare checks; and that the police had effectively given their blessing to the owners of Libra to continue operating as a brothel, but had reneged on that blessing so that they could seize the vast proceeds of the business.
• Former junior and secretary of the Midland Circuit.
• Executive Member of the Criminal Bar Association.
• Member of the South Eastern Circuit.
• Pupillage Supervisor.
• Tom has a strong belief in equal opportunities.