Sarah specialises in Family, Criminal and Regulatory law.
She is regularly instructed to represent vulnerable and demanding clients, including those with little or no experience of court proceedings. She is highly regarded for her personable manner and pragmatic approach.
Sarah represents parents, children and local authorities in care and adoption proceedings. She has experience of complex proceedings involving non-accidental injuries, sexual abuse, incest, substance misuse, neglect and mental health issues including factitious illness.
In the private law proceedings Sarah has a broad practice which includes allegations of physical and sexual abuse, risk of abduction, parental alienation and cultural and religious issues.
Sarah regularly conducts fact-finding hearings involving allegations of serious abuse perpetrated against both adults and children.
Recent cases, both reported and of interest:
Wirral Borough Council v KL [2019 Liverpool Family Court] successfully represented KL who was alleged to have physically abused an 18 month old child in her care. The child was found to have sustained 82 inflicted injuries. Following a lengthy finding of fact hearing, no findings were made against KL.
Borough of Telford & Wrekin v SSB [2019 High Court sitting in Birmingham] three-week finding of fact hearing before Mr Justice Cohen. Instructed as junior counsel for the mother who was alleged to have intentionally starved her children as a form of punishment.
Wrexham Borough Council v DP [2018 Wrexham Family Court] Sarah successfully represented a father in care proceedings where it was alleged that he was the perpetrator of sexual abuse. After a lengthy finding of fact hearing the Court accepted the father’s account and directed for an independent social worker to undertake further assessment to consider the rehabilitation of the child to the father’s care.
Cheshire West and Chester Council v DM [2018 Chester Family Court] Sarah represented the alleged perpetrator of serious sexual abuse during a three-week finding of fact hearing. Sarah made a successful application to permit cross-examination of the child witnesses.
Bolton Borough Council v NO [2018 High Court sitting in Manchester] Sarah represented a Somalian woman accused of carrying out torture on her children as a ritual punishment for her belief that they were possessed.
Y and W and Z [High Court sitting at Caernarfon] Neutral Citation Number:  EWHC 2431 (Fam) – before Mr Justice McDonald. Sarah successfully pursued findings against a father who had been acquitted of rape of a five year old in 2001. This required complex disclosure applications; including an application to trace the alleged victim (now an adult) and for disclosure of her medical records.
Sarah subsequently applied to instruct two independent experts http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/2431.html to consider the records. The applications were granted and the reports provided overwhelming evidence against the father.
Cheshire West and Chester Council v T and R [Chester Family Court] – successfully represented a mother in care proceedings where it was alleged that she was the perpetrator of serious non-accidental injuries, which included two fractures caused on separate occasions. After a lengthy finding of fact hearing, at which the medical evidence was challenged, the court accepted the mother’s account. The child was returned to the mother’s care immediately after the hearing.
Sarah also has experience of representing clients with hearing impairments and of making applications for specialist assessments:
Wirral Borough Council v KD [2019 Chester Family Court] representing mother in care proceedings. The Court directed for a specialist parenting assessment and the mother was assisted at trial by both BSL interpreters and a deaf intermediary.
Sarah is a category 3 panel prosecutor and is on the CPS Panel of Rape Advocates.
Recent cases, both reported and of interest:
R v JLM [2019 Chester Crown Court] Sarah appeared on behalf of a mental health nurse who had pleaded guilty to Fraud by Abuse of Position having made significant cash withdrawals from the account of a patient in her care. The Court was persuaded to impose a suspended sentence order.
R v LH [2018 Manchester Youth Court] Sarah successfully prosecuted a youth charged with rape. The case required careful consideration of a significant volume of social care records, telephone downloads and social media evidence.
R v AT [2018 Liverpool Crown Court] Sarah successfully defended a male charged with sexual assault on a train where the alleged incident was captured on CCTV.
Sarah has a regulatory practice which belies her call. She is regularly instructed by local authorities to provide pre-charge advice and representation through to trial.
She has significant experience in trading standard prosecutions and housing matters.
R v Major, Holloway and Smith [2018 Chester Crown Court] Sarah successfully prosecuted a four-week fraudulent trading trial which necessitated calling over 40 witnesses to give evidence. The defendants received significant custodial sentences. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/elaborate-home-improvement-fraud-used-12231381
Business Energy Solutions Limited v The Crown Court at Preston [2018 Administrative Court] Sarah was led by Andrew Thomas QC representing Cheshire West and Chester Trading Standards as an Interested Party in an application. The Court dismissed the application.
Shropshire v Salop Lets [2018 Telford Magistrates Court] Sarah successfully prosecuted 24 offences relating to three licensed houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) for vulnerable adults under Housing Act 2004. The company was fined a total of £31,500 and ordered to pay £11,462 in costs.
Operation Drake  Sarah was instructed on an urgent basis by a local authority as independent counsel to review electronic material that may be subject to legal privilege.
Sarah accepts instructions on a direct access basis.
Sarah is recommended in the Legal 500 2019 as a leading junior in Family and Children Law on the Wales and Chester Circuit:
“An extremely methodical barrister who always puts clients at ease.”(Legal 500, 2019)
“She is always well prepared and adopts a robust, but always sensible, approach” (Legal 500 2017 ranked Tier 1)
2007-2008 Bar Vocational Course (Manchester Metropolitan University)
2004-2007 LLB Hons (University of Manchester)
Awards & Scholarships
FLBA and the Bar Council Scholarships Trust grant awarded to attend the 6th World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights (2013)
3-4 South Square Scholarship awarded by Middle Temple to undertake the Bar Vocational Course (2008)
Memberships and Associations
Family Law Bar Association
Criminal Bar Association
Wales and Chester Circuit