Jane Bickerstaff QC

Introduction

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 for the FA and Sport resolutions as well as RFU and England Boxing.

In 2021 Jane was appointed to the Safeguarding Appeal Tribunal of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation.

Notable cases

R v F, 2021

Defended a mother charged with murder of her severely disabled son. A plea was accepted to Manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. The mother developed a mental disorder due to the strain of caring for her son with minimal help during lockdown. The judge said her son was "an indirect victim of interruption to normal life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic." The Defendant was sentenced to a hospital order with restriction under the Mental Health Act without a limit of time. Central Criminal Court.

News report here.

R v DE, 2020-2021

Leading Tessa Shroff in baby shaking murder trial representing defendant with learning and cognitive difficulties. St Albans Crown Court.

New report here.

R v C, 2020

Defending a French National charged with rape. Offence had allegedly taken place in front of the young children of the defendant and the complainant. Acquitted. Stafford Crown Court.

R v W, 2020

Prosecution of a youth for the murder by stabbing of his drug dealer. Complicated sentencing exercise due to age of defendant. Central Criminal Court.

R v D, 2019

Prosecution of a woman for the manslaughter of her baby by shaking. As well as the usual difficult medical issues arising from shaken baby cases, this baby was 15 weeks premature, with attendant health problems. The defendant had an extremely low IQ and required an intermediary for the whole trial. Reading Crown Court.

R v L, 2019

Prosecution of a man for the murder of his partner. The murder was exceptionally violent and took place in his home address. He suffered for many years from depression and anxiety and ran the defence of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility. Central Criminal Court.

Elize Stevens death: Man jailed for murdering partner - BBC News

R v E, 2019

Defence of a pharmacist for alleged sexual assaults on the Saturday Girl who worked in his chemist. She was a vulnerable witness, suffering from mental health issues. There was an abuse of process argument over lost/missing CCTV evidence. Defendant acquitted. Northampton Crown Court.

R v J, 2019

Defence of a man now in his seventies for rape and serious sexual offences against two foster daughters during the eighties and nineties. The case involved analysis of large quantities of social care records which demonstrated significant failings in the recollections and assertions of the witnesses. The complexity of the case was increased as the defendant admitted in police interview to some sexual conduct with one of the complainants but only by consent and when she had reached the age of sixteen. He was jointly charged with his wife who faced child cruelty allegations. The case involved cross examining with some sensitivity extremely damaged adults who had suffered physical and mental health issues as an alleged result of the abuse they complained of. Aylesbury Crown Court

R v C and others, 2019

Defence of a man for dangerous act manslaughter and aggravated burglary. In the course of an intrusion at knifepoint into the home of a drug dealer, in order to steal from him drugs/money, the victim escaped by jumping head first from a fourth floor window. He landed on concrete and died. The case involved extensive legal submissions on the law in this area. Central Criminal Court

R v S, 2018

Defence of a church pastor for the repeated rape and sexual assault of his 11 year old daughter. The witness made timely complaint and was only 12 years when she gave evidence. The case involved full use of vulnerable witness protocol including submission of questions for cross examination in writing. Snaresbrook Crown Court

R v E and others, 2018

Prosecution of 5 teenage defendants for the joint enterprise murder by stabbing of another teenager. The incident was a retributive attack following a confrontation in the street between one of the defendants and the victim. The defendants all played different roles and although three were directly involved in the stabbing it was not possible to prove who delivered the fatal blow. The defendants advanced self defence. All involved in the stabbing were convicted of murder. Central Criminal Court

R v K, 2018

Prosecution of female defendant for the murder of her sister. This was an astonishingly violent attack in the home address and in the presence of the victim’s four young children. The motive was jealousy as the defendant was having an affair with her sister’s husband. The defendant reported the offence to police and spun a false story of an intruder to the home having attacked her sister. The case involved meticulous investigation forensically, of mobile telephone messages and local CCTV to uncover the truth. The defendant then sought to run mental health defences but eventually pleaded guilty to murder at trial. Central Criminal Court

Read more Notable cases

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

"Jane is a fantastic advocate, who is bright, approachable, realistic and down to earth. She is patient, caring and robust.” “A rising star among barristers specialising in cases of serious sexual misconduct.” (Chambers UK, 2020)
"A force to be reckoned with and an incisive cross-examiner" (Legal 500, 2020)
"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

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PROFILE: Jane Bickerstaff QC

Legal 500, 2021 Chambers UK, 2021

Year called

1989

Silk

2012

Specialisms

Crime

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Confiscation / POCA

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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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Serious Crime

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Sexual offences

Disciplinary

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Regulatory / Disciplinary

Direct access

Yes

Contact

020 7489 2727

Memberships

Criminal Bar Association

Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers

Appointments

FA Judicial Panel, appointed 2018

Legal Chair of specialist panels for Sport Resolutions – Appointed 2019

Safeguarding Appeal Tribunal of the Gymnastics Ethics Foundation - Appointed 2021

Recognition

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