Nigel Lithman, leading murder & manslaughter barrister
With over 38 years of experience, 18 of them as a QC, Nigel is one of the UK’s leading murder and manslaughter barristers, and has accumulated a wealth of experience in both prosecuting and defending murder/manslaughter trials. He has appeared in well over 100 murder trials during his career. His enthusiasm remains the same as ever, only his skills have increased.
Within this category, he has defended in a series of child/family murders, “cut-throat defence” gangland murders and corporate manslaughter cases. Through his dealings with forensic experts ranging from pathologists, blood spatter, gunfire residue, ballistics, fire, forensic psychologists, medical specialists, psychiatrists and forensic accountants, Nigel has gained a vast technical knowledge of the forensics associated with murder charges and the key ability to undermine expert testimony where required.
Within the last five years, he has secured acquittals in the large majority of murder trials including successfully representing a defendant twice charged with murder at the Old Bailey.He successfully secured the acquittal or dismissal of the murder allegation by a jury in 9 trials, all within an 18 month period and continues to do so.
Recent trials of note include:
R v Clarke; Nigel secured Mr Clarke’s acquittal twice of murder within an 18 month period. On both occasions, it was suggested that he was the person that wielded a knife. On both occasions, he persuaded a jury that although present Mr Wright was not involved. .
R v Beavis: obtained Not Guilty verdicts for murder and manslaughter for a well known welterweight Boxer whilst on trial as a joint party to murder.
R v Parrott: acquitted of murder in a Cut throat multi handed murder trial.
R v Z: this case was one of many where Nigel has successfully represented Polish nationals. Z was acquitted of murder of his employer. He had come to the premises that she owned and bludgeoned her to death. His account that he had not meant to kill her was accepted: Verdict of manslaughter (“no intent”) achieved.
R v C: it was said that Mr. Chatrajan came to the U.K. from Azerbaijan specifically to assassinate a fellow countryman, who was then killed. Although present at the scene, the jury accepted another man also at the scene was responsible for the murder. They acquitted the defendant.
Such Manslaughter cases arise in many different and often technical ways. By way of example:
R v LARKLAND MAY: Nigel defended a van driver who had parked his van at the top of a busy hill in central London. It was alleged that due to his failure to properly apply the handbrake, it rolled downhill, crushing two pedestrians to death. Nigel secured his acquittal of manslaughter by persuading the jury that these deaths were due to an engineering defect in the vehicle demonstrated through expert evidence combined with a tragic coincidence of facts.
In R v HOOPER, through use of legal argument, Nigel secured the acquittal of the proprietor of a nursing home charged with manslaughter as a result of overseeing the administration of the incorrect drug allocation that led to the death of a patient. Ms. Hooper was alleged to have been grossly negligent in permitting a nurse who returned to work during a serious illness to be in charge of distributing drugs.
Nigel is frequently instructed in highly sensitive cases, often involving fatalities within the family and a need for the sensitive handling of cross examination of young vulnerable witnesses . He has represented the defence in over 20 cases involving crimes alleged to have been committed by family or close relations including spouses killing or harming each other, parents killing or harming their children or children killing or harming their parents. He has defended a number of parents charged with causing non – accidental trauma to babies, invariably leading to fatality. Such “Baby Shaking Cases” are highly technical involving difficult medical concepts and examination of medical experts (see further under Medico-Legal). In R v Paton, Nigel secured the acquittal of murder of a battered wife who killed her husband.
JOINT ENTERPRISE and “CUT THROAT” MURDERS:
In the last five years, Nigel has frequently appeared for those not actually wielding a murder weapon but alleged to be otherwise somehow involved. In 2014/ 2015 this speciality area within the umbrella of “murder/manslaughter”, saw Nigel involved in four separate joint enterprise/cut throat murder trials, three at the Old Bailey and one at Snaresbrook Crown Court. In each of these trials, the defendant was alleged to have participated in murders or armed robberies and denied the charges on the basis that he was present without knowing a crime was to be committed.
Another feature of these cases is where another Defendant has sought to escape justice by blaming Nigel’s client for committing an offence. Known as a fearless advocate, Nigel does not flinch where necessary to point the finger back at that person in order to establish the true position of his client’s innocence.
By way of example:
R v Lawrence Bennett: Juvenile alleged to be the stabber in multi handed knife crime at the Old Bailey - acquitted.
R v Beavis – Not Guilty verdicts (murder and manslaughter) secured for a well known welterweight boxer whilst on trial with others.
R v Parrott - acquitted of murder in a cut throat multi handed murder trial.
R v Terry Benstead - Cut throat multi handed trial at Chelmsford – acquitted.
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