Nicholas Campbell QC
Year Of CallYear of call: 1978
All aspects of crime, both prosecuting and defending, and focusing on the most serious allegations of violent and sexual assault including homicide, infanticide, rape and the abuse of children. He excels in cross-examination and in drawing together the threads of each case as he presents his closing submissions to the jurors.
Since taking silk, Nicholas has been instructed in many high profile cases of murder, including the prosecution of the two schoolgirls for the brutal murder in Hartlepool of Angela Wrightson. Non-fatal cases have included the prosecution of the man dubbed by the media “the British Fritzl”; the brothers wrongly dubbed the “Edlington Boys”; and some professional footballers. He has been instructed in cases of police corruption. In his defence work, he has run the gamut from automatism through horseplay to self defence.
As a junior barrister, it is of note that he was led by Franz Muller QC in the representation of Billy Dunlop at the trials which resulted in his acquittal of the murder of Julie Hogg in 1989; that acquittal was quashed when Mr. Dunlop confessed to the homicide. As the first person to be indicted pursuant to the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 abolishing the common law rule against ‘double jeopardy’, he was finally convicted of her murder in November 2006.
Among his recent trials are:
R -v- Khalid Mokadeh: concerning the manslaughter of Sami Al-Saroori on the Wensley Estate in Sheffield. The Jury found all the elements of murder proved, but came to the view that the Defendant may have lost his self control, as defined by the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. On two earlier occasions, the Defendant had seriously wounded Sami’s younger brother Mohammed as well as a perfect stranger. For his crimes, he was sentenced in August to an extended sentence of 30 years.
R -v- Michael Dunphy: the kidnapping in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, of three women and a seven year old child, with a view to pulling off a bank robbery. On 20th June 2018 he began an extended sentence of 23 years. For the story, see “The Case of the Career Criminal, the Vicarious Victim and the Nosy Neighbour”.
R -v- Ashkar, Ahmed & others: the first defendant had married Sinead Wooding in a ceremony recognised by Islamic law. Ms Wooding’s badly burned body was found in woodland to the north of the city of Leeds. She had four young children, the younger two with Ashkar. It emerged that she had been brutally murdered in the cellar of the home of the second defendant. Although not related, the two defendants would speak of one another as sister and brother. Ashkar had said that Ahmed would “do anything” for him, and Ahmed had said of the two of them: “We ride and die together.” The murder, the motive for which was never explained, had been brutal, involving the use of at least one hammer and one knife. Nicholas led Duncan Ritchie of the Crown Prosecution Service and both were ably assisted by Naakesha Seth’s work on disclosure. After a trial lasting six weeks in which each sought to blame the other, both defendants were convicted of the murder. Each is serving a life sentence with a minimum term of 22 years.
R -v- Wahid Husman & Tahsib Majid & others: Messrs. Husman and Majid were two serving constables with West Midlands Police (WMP) who had hatched an ambitious plot to conduct what the prosecution characterised as an unlawful sting operation. Officers of the WMP Counter Corruption Unit uncovered the plan which, if successful, would have deprived drugs traffickers of kilos of drugs of both Class A and B, only to have ensured that, using different channels, they were sold back into the supply chain.
The plan was made possible by criminal associates of Husman, co-conspirators who organised the delivery of the drugs into Birmingham. At the point of delivery, and using their marked police vehicle, the uniformed officers would block in the couriers’ vehicle. Anticipating that the couriers would flee the scene on foot, the officer would follow after, leaving the coast clear for the co-conspirators to plunder the car for the drugs and any cash that was to hand. The arrangement was that some drugs would be left in situ so that, when the officers returned from their unsuccessful chase, they would call in the job and receive the glory of a successful, legitimate bust. The stolen drugs would be divided up between the conspirators later.
In addition, both officers had, separately, obtained and disclosed personal and sensitive data from police systems for their own, unlawful, purposes. In Mr. Husman’s case that included passing the information to his criminal associates.
Together with Ian Mullarkey, Nicholas was instructed to prosecute the case. On 7th August 2017, Wahid Husman and the officer’s criminal associates pleaded guilty in respect of their involvement in the plot and the disclosure of personal data. On 22nd August 2017, after a trial which had lasted ten days, Tahsib Majid was similarly convicted. Sentencing took place in October 2017 when the officers, now dismissed, received the longest sentences; the former 16 years and the latter 15.
R -v- Storm Blueitt: the robbery and murder of a 64 year old woman working alone in the Rotherham newsagent she owned with her brother. The Defendant had stolen £40 from the till, part of which went to pay for his next drugs fix. In order to effect the theft, he had struck his victim repeatedly over her head with a weapon, most likely a claw hammer which he subsequently disposed of. He caused her serious injuries; the Home Office pathologist who eventually examined her body told the Court that younger and fitter victims had died from less. Admitted to hospital, she began to rally – only to die some fifty days after the assault as a result of breast cancer. This was a terminal medical condition which had been diagnosed some two years before and for which she had been successfully treated. Regrettably, as a result of the head trauma, she never recovered sufficiently to able to be treated for the spread of the cancer.
The identity of the perpetrator was in issue. Together with his junior Richard Thyne, Nicholas adduced a great deal of medical evidence to assist the Court on the more forensically interesting issue of causation.
On Monday 10th July, a Sheffield jury unanimously convicted Mr. Blueitt of both offences. The jury had been made sure that Mr. Blueitt’s actions in the course of the robbery had made a significant contribution to the death of his victim, namely by accelerating that tragic event. He is now serving a life sentence, the minimum term being 27 years.
R -v- Philip Craig: Together with Matthew Bean, Nicholas prosecuted the man responsible for the murder in his Leeds home of Christopher Laskaris. Mr. Laskaris was a young and vulnerable man who lived alone. The motive seems to have been his valuable guitars, which were stolen from the flat in the days following the murder. The Defendant is now serving a life sentence, the minimum term being 25 years, less time served awaiting his trial.
R -v- LB: the premeditated murder by stabbing of LB’s mother’s boyfriend, MW, who had been his best friend; at the time, the victim was 18, LB 19. The murder took place in the early hours of the morning outside the Hillsborough, Sheffield home of LB and his mother. No one saw the knife and everyone but the Defendant, including his victim, appeared to have believed it was a fair fight. His mother, who was trying to separate the two, just escaped serious injury. LB fled to the home of a friend where he was arrested and the knife recovered.
R -v- Sheard & Damen: Together with Tony Dunne, Nicholas prosecuted this young couple who summoned the emergency services to their West Yorkshire home in the early hours of the morning. The body of their daughter of some 18 weeks was found. In spite of very serious injuries and the fact that the body had been burned after death, no cause of death could be proved to the criminal standard. The couple were in due course charged with cruelty. Ms. Damen pleaded guilty at the outset of the trial and Mr. Sheard was convicted by the jury.
R -v- F & D: the brutal murder by two schoolgirls, aged respectively 14 and 13, of Angela Wrightson in her Hartlepool home. The victim was a woman in her late 30s, well liked in her community but an alcoholic and vulnerable, especially to the “schoolies” with whom she had taken up in the months before her death and for whom she would buy alcohol. Social media figured large in the course of the killing and its investigation, resulting in the defendants being dubbed by the mainstream media the “Snapchat killers”. Regrettably, a number of those organisations posted reports of the case on their Facebook pages, thereby providing a platform for members of the public to express some very extreme views: this amounted to a virtual lynching mob. As a result of such conduct, the first trial had had to be aborted and the re-trial took place away from the area. Together with Shaun Dodds, Nicholas prosecuted the case to convictions for murder.
(Some cases from the years 2010 – 2015)
R -v- SL: the defence of a male student aged 20, who had armed himself with a dumbbell bar and struck a fellow student, a stranger, several times about the head, the attack continuing after his victim had hit the ground. Serious harm resulted, but fortunately there was a full physical recovery. It emerged that the defendant, who had no recollection of the incident, had been taking Citalopram, an antidepressant from the family of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which his doctor had prescribed. That it was the SSRI that had caused him to become violent was clear; he had never before – and has not since – shown any sign of being aggressive, and the medical evidence was compelling. Although the jury rejected the defence of automatism, SL was acquitted of having intended to cause serious harm and convicted only of unlawfully causing the injuries. In due course, he received a suspended sentence of imprisonment.
R -v- Dr. Johnson: the prosecution, with Rachael Harrison, of a general practitioner who had sexually assaulted nine of his female patients in the two rural surgeries at which he worked. The allegations spanned four decades, from 1978-2006. He was convicted of 15 offences and was sentenced to a total of five years imprisonment. The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, pursuant to a reference by the Attorney General under section 36 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, increased that sentence to a total of nine years. He was later given an additional sentence when he admitted the sexual abuse of a teenager over a two year period; the two families had met through the church community to which they had then belonged.
R -v- Habibur Rahim and Others: the defence of a man charged with conspiring to incite women. in the main from the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne, to become prostitutes for gain.
R -v- Thahi Manna: the appalling murder of his Kuwaiti wife in a prolonged attack using. amongst other implements, several screwdrivers. The trial lasted three weeks and Nicholas was greatly assisted by Stephen Littlewood’s work on disclosure.
R -v- Surjit Singh Sidhu & Nicola Bedford: both defendants were convicted of the murder of Martin Ackroyd in his Huddersfield home. Nicholas was instructed together with Tamara Pawson to prosecute the case and both were assisted by Stephen Littlewood on disclosure.
R -v- F: the defence of horseplay was deployed successfully when the defendant struck his friend with unintended consequences. It was Rebecca Stevens, with whom Nicholas worked on this case, who had first seen the relevance to the facts of this rarely used defence.
R -v- Ashtiaq Asghar: the prosecution, with Tina Dempster, of the youth responsible for the murder of Laura Wilson, aged 17, whose body was discovered in the section of the Sheffield to Keadby canal, lying just west of Rotherham.
R -v- Gavin Nicholson: the prosecution of a male nurse working in the setting of a private hospital who was convicted of the sexual touching of several female patients as they emerged from general anaesthetic. The evidence included expert testimony on the effects of propofol, the anaesthetic drug taken by Michael Jackson which resulted in his death.
R -v- X: the prosecution of the man dubbed the ‘British Fritzl’, now serving an indeterminate custodial sentence for a 25 year regime of raping his two daughters to whom he had fathered nine children, seven of whom survived at the time of the hearing.
R -v- James Charlton: the prosecution, with Ian Mullarkey, of a CORGI registered gas fitter whose gross negligence in installing a boiler had led to the death of the householder by carbon monoxide poisoning. The evidence included expert evidence of the proper installation of such appliances and the pernicious effects of such negligence.
R -v- Reed & Reed: the prosecution, with Tina Dempster, of two brothers who were convicted of murder on the basis of what has become known as “touch” (aka low template) DNA. The Court of Appeal used this case and one other to clarify the approach to expert evidence in the light of Part 33 CPR.
R -v- “the Edlington Boys”: the prosecution of two brothers notoriously but wrongly so described who, at the ages of ten and eleven, tortured other young boys.
R -v- Ryan Ward & Ors.: the prosecution of members of a post code gang responsible for the murder of the neighbourhood peacemaker and its cover-up.
R -v- David Hill: the prosecution, with Adrian Strong, of a man convicted of the murder of his mother-in-law, Molly Wright, a trader on Castleford Market. The case comprised a jigsaw of circumstantial evidence, including blood on the Mr. Hill’s clothing which could not have been explained by his account of having discovered the body, and other lies he had told concerning his movements at the time of and in the immediate aftermath of the murder.
Operation Clyde: concerning historical abuse, both sexual and violent, of children in residential care.
R v Ainsworth: R v Fletcher; R v Maguire; R v Moran; R v Patchett; and R v Walton; all homicides in the context of an intimate relationship.
R v Clarkson: aged 16 at the time of the murder of a 15 year boy, he had turned 17 by the time he stood his trial alongside other teenagers.
R v Davey: indicted on the rape of a young woman with Down’s Syndrome.
R v Jamal, Harrison & Sadiq: attempted murder by shooting.
R v Lamb, Langley & Trafford: murder by joint enterprise.
R v Raw: the murder of an infant of 13 months.
R v Stephenson: who was alleged to have assisted the suicide of his wife.
R v Taylor: ‘animal rights’ activist indicted under ss.145 and 146 of the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005.
R v Wright & Mackenzie Seaton: the murder of a child of six years, relying on the provisions of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.
R v Boyd: teenager-on-teenager homicide.
R v Gallant and Gilligan: the murder of Barrie Jackson, involving issues of anonymity for prosecution witnesses. Nicholas was greatly assisted by David Brooke, now Head of Chambers.
R v Hakeem: conspiracy to kidnap.
R v Land: indicted on serious sexual assaults, including rape, of successive female partners.
A number of prosecutions arising out of the murder on Teesside of Kalvant Singh: several of the protagonists fled the jurisdiction, were extradited and tried at various times. One of the connected trials saw a defendant convicted of doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice and sentenced to a total term of 10 years imprisonment.
R -v- Bowyer, Woodgate, Duberry and Others: the prosecution with Adrian Waterman of two Leeds United footballers and some of Woodgate’s friends from Teesside for violence in Leeds city centre, and a third footballer for participating in the cover up.
Some reported cases:
R v H  App.R.(S) 229: junior counsel to Helena Kennedy QC in the defence of a battered woman who had killed her husband.
R v Ghafoor  L.R. 739: the approach to sentencing in the light of Article 7, ECHR, focusing on young offenders.
R v Gallant  All ER (D) 281 (May);  EWCA Crim 111: arising out of the murder case of Gallant & Gilligan (see below), the authority dealing with alternative verdicts.
R v Reed & Reed  EWCA Crim. 2698: the approach to expert evidence, focusing on that given before the Court of Appeal by professed experts in the field of DNA.
Trainer in advocacy and communications skills on behalf of Kinch Robinson: http://www.kinchrobinson.com
Called to the Bar 1978/Inner Temple
- Trinity College, Cambridge BA 1977
- College of Law (Bar examinations) 1978
- Criminal Bar Association, on the committee of which he served representing the North Eastern Circuit 2001-2004.
- North Eastern Circuit