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 ‘elo-quently’ in a complex sentencing appeal. He was commended by the former 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 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 considered 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 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; modern slavery; terrorism; 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 GBP; a control word sharing fraud on Virgin Media using offshore proxy servers worth over 50 million GBP; 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’ 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 concern-ing 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
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.
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 GBP 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 cer-tain 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 con-cerning 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).
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 dimen-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.
Tom has a strong belief in equal opportunities.
Notable Cases
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.
R v SN [2020]
Appeal against a confiscation order made in respect of a brothel. Complex issues concerning hidden assets. [Public Access]
R v RH [2020]
Appeal against a confiscation order made in respect of a 7 million GBP heist. Complex issues concerning default terms [Public Access]
Operation Rauch (2019)
Prosecuted in a murder trial at the Old Bailey.
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 defendant. 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 proceedings 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 GBP in cash. The police made an application to forfeit the cash on the basis that on a balance of probabilities, it derived from some form of predicate crime and was going 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 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 BSS [2019]
A cash forfeiture case involving cultural issues as to the handling of cash. [Public Access]
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 widespread outbreak of disorder in Leicester city center between members of the Somalian community 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 attacking 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 arrangement 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 currently facing significant persecution at the hands of the so-called Islamic State (Daesh). The defendant 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 SR [2018]
Appeal against sentence in respect of drug trafficking offences. [Public Access]
R v SVB (2017)
Successfully defended a young man accused of assisting and encouraging his friend to murder another man, with whom they had fallen out on the forecourt of a petrol station. SVB would have received a life sentence if convicted, but the jury acquitted him;
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 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 SH (2017)
Defending (led by Orlando Pownall QC) one of the principal defendants in an alleged conspiracy 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 GB (2017)
Defended in a human trafficking case involving repeated facilitations of unlawful entry into the UK by Indian nationals via the Channel tunnel;
R v SM (2017)
Defending in a case involving a multi-million pound money laundering arrangement whereby the proceeds of a tax fraud were laundered through a complex web of bank accounts;
R v IA (2017)
Defending in an ongoing case alleged revenue fraud. The defendant is alleged to have hijacked charities and later set up sham charities, in order to make false ‘Gift aid’ repayment claims to HMRC.
Pupillage Supervisor
Former Junior and Secretary of the Midland Circuit
Executive Member of the Criminal Bar Association
Member of the South Eastern Circuit