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.
Described by the Right Honourable Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, (Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, Kt. PC), as making ‘attractive and measured submissions’ and advancing his arguments ‘eloquently’, and commended by the Right Honourable Vice President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal (Lady Justice Hallett, DBE PC) for leading the submissions in a complex 6 appellant appeal, Tom is considered a rising star.
He is a specialist criminal and regulatory practitioner, with a national 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 between the criminal and civil jurisdictions effortlessly, has a meticulous approach to preparation, is always 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), organized crime and international firearms trafficking, and serious sexual offences. Tom has a particular expertise in in cases of fraud (including missing trader intra community frauds and cyber-frauds). Tom’s recent cyber-fraud cases involved: attacks on the Carbon Credit registries of the United Nations, the Federal Republic of Germany and the Kingdom of Spain worth over 5 million, a control word sharing fraud on Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers worth over 50 million, and illegal music file sharing. Tom also accepts instructions in civil frauds.
Treasury Counsel monitoree
Tom is currently on the monitoring program for Treasury Counsel. 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. Treasury Counsel are appointed by the Attorney General in consultation with the Director of Public Prosecutions. ‘Monitorees’ will often appear at the Central Criminal Court, and also frequently act 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 affecting national security or the disclosure of material affecting national security. Tom has also been instructed 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 Appeals 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 and 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 regulatory 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 Appeals
Tom has a particular interest in appeals (primarily to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, but including judicial review and case stated) and frequently advises on appealing against wrongful convictions, excessive sentences, and unfair confiscation orders – often where he was not original trial counsel. Tom also acts 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.
Confiscation - 25% of Tom’s practice is taken up with confiscation matters. He advises on potential challenges to restraint 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 Supreme 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’.
Third party interests in confiscation proceedings - 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 newly amended section 10A(2), Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA), now provides for individuals who claim to have a third party interest in the assets of respondents to confiscation applications, 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 interest in property owned by a respondent, at the enforcement stage. 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 representations to the Court concerning his interests (see section 31(5)(b), POCA 2002).
Tom regularly accepts instructions from clients with third party interests.
Cash Forfeiture and Asset Recovery - Tom has extensive experience in this field. His experience in criminal cases of fraud and money laundering has provided him with essential knowledge and experience to assist respondents seeking the return of their money. He has acted for applicants and respondents in cash forfeiture applications by police forces, HMRC and other government authorities.
Tom has lectured widely on asset recovery and corporate compliance responsibilities in respect of money laundering: 2009 - Money Laundering, Bribery and Asset Recovery seminar (New Delhi, India), 2013 - GCS 9th Annual AML convention [Compliance and Financial Crime Conference/ Proceeds of Crime Legislation in the UK] (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands).
International - Tom has a developing international practice, stretching from India to the Caribbean and recognises the demand from overseas for high levels of expertise in advocacy. Tom has lectured in New Delhi and the Cayman Islands on Money Laundering offences and regulation (see above), and previously travelled to Dubai and Germany to secure evidence in domestic cases with an international dimension.
Tom also accepts instructions in extradition matters.
Notable Cases
R v Lewis Poyser and others (2017)
defended 4 appellants in a post-R v Jogee appeal. The Appellants were convicted on the basis of parasitic accessorial liability by continuing to be involved in a kidnapping whilst foreseeing the possibility that the principal offender 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 appellants 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 appellant 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 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 currently facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). Tom argued that the learned trial judge had undermined his own directions to the jury at the conclusion of the case, such that the Court could not be sure that the jury had safely convicted
R v Dilbagh Summan [2016] – application to appeal against conviction for fraud
It was argued that the Prosecution had authorised the wrong charge in order to circumvent the 6 months’ time limit on the instigation of proceedings in summary cases
R v Taranjit Singh Gill [2016] – application for permission to appeal
The Applicant was convicted of involvement in a 35 million money laundering arrangement which involved the setting up of sham businesses to disguise criminal cash being laundered through money service bureaux.
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 Kishor Kuchhadia [2015] EWCA Crim 1384 – appeal against conviction for money laundering
At trial, there was evidence of hundreds of thousands of pounds of expenditure yet the appellant had no visible means of support. The trial judge ruled that this was sufficient to raise a case against the appellant. At the appeal it was argued that the trial judge had misinterpreted the authority of R v Anwoir which permits juries to find the existence of ‘criminal property’ without any direct evidence of the same. The Court was persuaded that the trial judge should have given further directions
R v Naqash Younis [2015] EWCA Crim 1102
successful appeal against sentence for trafficking in 15kg of heroin
R v Ajaz Budi [2015] EWCA Crim 35
successful appeal against conviction and sentence, on the basis of a biased summing up
R v Bobby Samra [2014] EWCA Crim 2748
appeal before the Lord Chief Justice concerning the proper application of the ‘totality principle’ in sentencing
R v Altaf Ahmed [2014]
conjoined appeal before Leveson LJ(P) concerning the admissibility of bad character evidence in ‘did he do the act’ hearings
R v Mohammed Shiraz [2014]
the proper used of the ‘slip rule’ in the crown court
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 confessions in ‘did he do the act’ hearings
R v Matthews [2013] EWCA Crim 2247
a fresh evidence case where HMRC had suppressed disclosable material during a trial. At trial, the principal defendant had claimed that when he committed the alleged offence he was acting as an informant for HMRC and directed by a handler. That claim was heavily criticised by the trial judge in his summing up to the jury. After conviction, the Prosecution revealed that in fact the principal defendant had been an informant and had been in contact with his handler before and after the alleged commission of the offence
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 disproportionate confiscation order based on giving inaccurate income information in a mortgage application
R v GH (Criminal Propensity) [2009] EWCA Crim 2899 (2010) 174 J.P. 203
successful appeal against conviction. The appellant was accused of robbery. He claimed that the culprit was not him, and named another (A). A had convictions for robbery and the defence applied to adduce those convictions to support the argument that A was the robber. The trial judge refused the application and ruled that ‘propensity’ evidence in respect of non-defendants, was not admissible. At the appeal, the Court agreed that there the trial judge was wrong. This case is the leading authority on ‘reverse propensity evidence’.
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.