0113 297 1200


Jess Butterell

Year of call: 2018

Jess has a busy practice focusing on the criminal and family jurisdictions.

In her family practice, Jess undertakes both private and public law proceedings. She is regularly instructed to act on behalf of Local Authorities, parents, grandparents, Children’s Guardians and interveners. Jess is regularly instructed to appear in Finding of Fact and Final Hearings and also has experience dealing with urgent hearings and is well equipped at representing clients who are vulnerable and has experience of dealing with clients who have capacity issues and require an intermediary.

Within her criminal practice, Jess is regularly instructed to both prosecute and defend in the Crown Court. Jess has experience prosecuting cases for the Complex Case Unit and has dealt with large scale conspiracy cases relating to fraud and money laundering. Jess is a Grade 2 Prosecutor and has experience prosecuting grade 3 offences such as possession of a firearm and armed burglary.

Jess represents Defendants from PTPH hearings through to sentence, and can provide appropriate advice regarding evidence, trial, and advice on appeal. Jess has experience representing Defendants for offences of serious violence, sale of drugs, coercive and controlling behaviour and dishonesty.

Across both of her practice areas Jess brings a professional yet personable approach to her practice with a recent lay client relaying the following feedback:

‘Jess was thorough, professional and personable…Her ability to take clients emotions into consideration while put her legal perspective into terms you can understand on the day is a real quality, I'm not sure many would possess’.

Practice Summary

Jess accepts instructions to prosecute and defend in the Crown Court. She is a grade two prosecutor and has experience of prosecuting two successful grade three trials in Teesside and Leeds, respectively. Jess’ prosecution practice has included her being briefed as junior Counsel in cases for the Complex Case Unit including allegations of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds. Jess is familiar with and appropriate when speaking with prosecution witnesses and complainants whom have attended at court, whether to give evidence or for sentencing hearings.

In her defence practice, Jess brings a personable yet professional approach to matters and is able to explain procedure and legal nuances to Defendants well. Jess is familiar with what is required in representing vulnerable clients and has, on several occasions, successfully secured suspended sentence orders where an immediate custodial sentence was a real possible outcome. Jess has experience successfully arguing for the exclusion of bad character and hearsay evidence and is able to consider and advise clients on the strength of the evidence against them throughout proceedings.

Notable cases:

R v CT & Others [2023]
Led by Ian Mullarkey, Jess and Ian prosecuted a trial of six Defendants on charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering instructed by the Complex Case Unit in Newcastle. The trial was heard over two weeks at Newcastle Crown Court and the lead conspirator, Christopher Taylor was eventually sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment following convictions for money laundering over £600,000. The trial was before HHJ Prince at Newcastle Crown Court and was - for the first time in that Court Centre - presented entirely electronically with jurors provided with electronic tablets to access and navigate the voluminous financial records which formed the prosecution case.

Press coverage of the case can be found at:

R v WM, LD and Others [2023]
Jess was Junior Counsel for the prosecution in a complex criminal case of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering concerning twelve Defendants, the total sum of the conspiracy coming in at £471,000. The Defendants were split into two trial groups which were heard at Bradford Crown Court across several weeks. Convictions were secured in relation to eight of the Defendants and they are due to be sentenced in the New Year.

Jess was led in this matter by Clare Holmes of Wilberforce Chambers and was responsible for handling the disclosure for the case and the agreed facts. In addition to liaising with defence teams and the police about the same.

R v MA [2023]
Jess defended a trial where there were allegations from multiple complainants of harassment and one charge of criminal damage. The trial lasted four days in Bradford Crown Court, at the conclusion of which the Defendant was acquitted of all counts but one of the harassment counts on the indictment.

R v LY [2023]
Jess represented a Defendant at his sentencing hearing who had pleaded guilty to multiple offences of assault by beating and common assault following a drunken incident at a pub in West Yorkshire. Jess in mitigating on his behalf was able to persuade the judge to suspend his sentence allowing the Defendant to serve a sentence within the community.

R v LA [2022]
Jess successfully prosecuted a seventeen-year-old Defendant charged on indictment with an aggravated burglary following a three-day trial at Leeds Crown Court. The court heard evidence from the victim that the Defendant and his two associates attended at his address in the early hours armed with a glass hammer. The Defendant then used this to cut the victim’s forearm and gain entry to his flat where they took several items including kitchen knives.

R v GW [2022]
Jess successfully prosecuted a Defendant charged on indictment with an offence of possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence following a three-day trial at Teesside Crown Court. The Defendant had attended at the Victim’s property and discharged his firearm on multiple occasions, causing her windows to smash. He was sentenced to six years imprisonment.

R v NT [2022]
Jess successfully prosecuted a Defendant charged on indictment with producing a controlled drug of Class B. The Defendant was found guilty after a four-day trial at Teesside Crown Court when his attempt to rely upon a defence of being a victim of modern slavery was undermined by evidence to show he was in fact a person involved in the organisation of trafficking, opposed to a victim of it.

R v TL [2022]
Jess was prosecution Counsel for the sentencing exercise of a Defendant guilty of thirteen charges. Eight of these were for offences of voyeurism whereby the Defendant had been covertly filming his female housemates during their time at university. The Defendant had hidden cameras in the communal bathrooms of his student house throughout his time at Kent University. At the lengthy sentencing hearing four out of the seven victims of the voyeurism charges attended, and two read their own victim personal statements. Press coverage can be found here: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/crime/pervert-jailed-after-secretly-filming-people-in-bathrooms-using-hidden-cameras-3866449

Practice Summary

Jess has been instructed for parties bringing and defending allegations within both public and private family proceedings.

Jess has experience representing clients who are vulnerable and in cases where children have been required to give evidence. Jess is well equipped in preparing and undertaking questioning of young child witnesses. Jess is also experienced in taking instructions from professional clients, such as Children’s Guardians, and has been involved in cases concerning more than one relevant Local Authority where proceedings begin in one location but placement is in another.

Jess has been instructed in lengthy care proceedings on behalf of Local Authorities. She is experienced in dealing with cases from the initial hearing through to Final Hearings and advising on the course of proceedings throughout. Jess has dealt with cases concerning different care plans and the life-long decisions for the future of multiple children within the same family. Jess is able to advise and assist with the drafting of legal documents such as threshold documents, position statements and skeleton arguments.

Notable cases

G and J [2023]
Jess was led by June Venters KC and they represented a Father faced with the most serious of allegations arising out of the death of his baby, aged teen weeks at the time. The case was listed for a lengthy composite final hearing spanning over four weeks and the court heard from numerous medical experts and lay witnesses.

The client instructing June and Jess was particularly vulnerable and had the benefit of an intermediary. Despite initial difficulties engaging the client in proceedings, the perseverance of June and Jess led to him developing a positive professional relationship with them and enabled him to fully participate in proceedings.

Within the hearing itself, June and Jess successfully argued for the elimination from the Local Authority’s threshold document for a finding on cause of death and the judge deemed the same an unnecessary exercise to be undertaken by the family courts.

The evidence within the case was voluminous with there being over 90,000 pages of phone data and other documents which required skill to interpret and understand, such as the reports of varying professors of medicine and pathology.

Re LL [2023]
Jess is instructed by the Children’s Guardian in lengthy care proceedings in which she has successfully applied for proceedings to be adjourned.

The case involves complex issues of mental health problems, alcohol misuse and domestic abuse in the form of controlling and coercive behaviour. There has already been a five-day Final Hearing in which evidence was heard and Jess cross-examined the Local Authority social worker about the adequacy of their assessments, resulting in an adjournment for reassessment.

LB [2023]
Jess represented a special guardian in a Final Hearing which resulted in the child being returned to their care under the auspices of a supervision order.

Re MF [2022]
Jess represented a client facing committal proceedings for allegations he had been in breach of a non-molestation order on three occasions, in family proceedings. The client was potentially facing a prison sentence if the court found him to be in contempt. Jess successfully made an argument that the application made by her client’s partner should be struck out on the basis of procedural failure in bringing the application.

Re NS [2022]
Jess represented a Mother in private law proceedings in a finding of fact five day hearing. The Mother had made allegations of the Father of domestic abuse including physical, sexual and emotional abuse and controlling and coercive behaviour. The Father had made counter-allegations of parental alienation. The court found the Mother’s allegations to be proven and dismissed the Father’s, making no findings against the Mother.

Re RH [2021]
Jess was instructed in a week long fact-finding private family case concerning allegations of sexual abuse by a parent to their child. At the hearing Jess was required to prepare appropriate questions for the child in question about the allegations and make representations about the necessity of the child giving evidence at that hearing.

H-M [2020-2021]
Jess was instructed by a Local Authority at the very beginning of lengthy care proceedings relating to the placements of five children. Jess represented the Local Authority throughout from the initial contested removal hearings to the two Final Hearings. The proceedings included both Maternal and Paternal Grandparents becoming parties, one of the children also being a party in their own right and litigants in person. The case concerned different placements for many of the children and involved serious allegations of violence, substance misuse and neglect of the children. At the conclusion the court followed the care plans of the Local Authority.


2014-2017: LLB, Bachelor of Laws, with Honours - Newcastle University
2017-2018: Bar Practical Training Course, University of Law
2020: The Felicity Ann Goddard Scholarship - Gray’s Inn

Professional Memberships

Criminal Bar Association
The North Eastern Circuit
The Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn

Additional Information

Jess volunteered with the National Centre for Domestic Violence whilst studying the Bar. During this work she would assist victims of DV through drafting their applications for Non-Molestation Orders. Jess has continued her interest in this area in her practice and both her family and criminal work often include issues of domestic violence.

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