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Jane Bickerstaff QC
Jane is a first-class advocate who prosecutes and defends in all areas of serious crime. She has been instructed in complex fraud and financial crime, and has particular expertise in sexual offences.
Background and Expertise
As a criminal barrister, Jane owes her reputation to her abilities in cross-examination, particularly of children and vulnerable witnesses; to the way she builds trust with clients, the judiciary and juries; her methodical preparation; and her feel for the tactics of a case.
Prosecuting, she is regularly instructed by the Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Major Crime Unit, to prosecute murders and complex crime on the borders of the Metropolitan area.
Defending, she is regularly instructed privately by both professional and high-profile defendants. Her expertise in sexual offences has seen her appear for the defence in a number of high-profile and complex historical allegations.
She regularly appears at the Central Criminal Court in cases of homicide.
Beyond her criminal practice, Jane has for many years appeared before police disciplinary boards, acting for regulated individuals – and continues this work as a QC.
She sits as the chair of child safeguarding panels for the Rugby Football Union and England Boxing.
Prosecution of 5 boys aged 14 and 15 years for the murder by stabbing of another 15 year old boy. The case was a true joint enterprise as the Crown could not prove who the stabber/stabbers were and the case involved piecing together large quantities of circumstantial and CCTV evidence. There were bad character applications re gang membership. St Albans Crown Court.
Defence of young defendant for murder of a 17 year old girl he had just met. He was said to have strangled her during the course of violent sexual activity. He then hid her body in his wardrobe where it decomposed before discovery, making ascertaining the precise cause of death very difficult. Case involved cross examining with great sensitivity and advancing very unattractive arguments to the court robustly yet sensitively. Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Defence of Imam, now in his eighties, for rape and historical sexual offences alleged by 7 cousins. K was suffering from advanced dementia and was found unfit to stand trial so his trial of issue took place alongside the trial of one of his female devotees. It was necessary to cross-examine all the complainants and other witnesses as to bad character without the benefit of proper instructions. Leicester Crown Court.
Defence of a man for rape and serious sexual offences alleged by his teenage step daughter. The complainant had psychological problems and had undergone counselling. There were issues with third party disclosure. There were many prosecution witnesses as all family members had turned against the defendant. Many of these had to be argued out as inadmissible. Croydon Crown Court.
Defence of a man in later life and suffering intellectual impairment for historical sexual offences against a family member. English was not his first language. He was granted an intermediary for the entirety of the trial. This is extremely rare and demonstrated the severity of his difficulties. Examination in chief had to be pre-prepared in writing and legal argument about appropriate directions in summing up such a case. Kingston Crown Court.
Successful defence of university student accused of taking part in the gang rape a woman at a college ball at the Royal Agricultural University. Gloucester Crown Court.
See Guardian news article.
Defence of a former headmaster, aged 84 at trial, charged with offences of the utmost seriousness: sexual abuse and breach of trust against many former pupils. Allegations dated to 1959–71. Barely any records existed and there was an extensive abuse of process argument. Previous allegations had been stayed in 2003, but admitted as bad character evidence. Defendant was convicted on retrial after a hung jury at first trial. Extensive argument before the Court of Appeal on the above issues and on sentence.
Successful defence, at Warwick Crown Court, of 21-year-old for stabbing his mother's abusive partner through the heart.
Successful defence, at Central Criminal Court, of a teenager accused of being part of a gang-related stabbing to death of another teen gang member in east London. Fought off sustained cut-throat defence from another accused.
Other Activities and Interests
- Jane is Head of Pupillage at 9 Bedford Row, and runs the in-house advocacy training programme
- Outside of work she enjoys good food and is a passionate supporter of Everton Football Club
Professional commentary and attribution
"A hard-working and dedicated silk who is regularly instructed in high-profile criminal cases. She is highly regarded by market sources for her expertise in sexual offences. Interviewees praise her for her handling of sensitive cases and vulnerable clients". (Chambers UK, 2019)
"A fantastic jury advocate with a nice touch breaking down complex arguments." (Legal 500, 2018)
"She is an intensive cross-examiner, who leaves no stone unturned." (Legal 500, 2017)
"A hard-working and dedicated silk who is regularly instructed in high-profile criminal cases. She is highly regarded by market sources for her expertise in sexual offences and is noted for being very approachable."
"A tenacious barrister who is great at cross-examination."
"An extremely hard-working advocate who is great with juries."
"Successfully defended a university student accused of gang rape of a female student following a college May Ball at the Royal Agricultural University."
Chambers UK, 2018
PROFILE: Jane Bickerstaff QC
"Jane's client care is fantastic; she is approachable, understanding and someone who has a lot of patience." "An excellent choice for serious sex cases."
Chambers UK, 2019