Read more Notable cases
Lee Karu QC
Lee is a highly experienced specialist criminal defence counsel. He has been practising for over 30 years and has built up a reputation and following amongst solicitors and lay clients alike such that he is instructed in serious criminal cases across the country. He is deeply passionate about his cases and is committed to achieving the best result for his clients. He has appeared in many serious and high profile cases from homicides and sexual cases to international financial crime.
Background and expertise
Lee began his career as a barrister practising general common law being instructed in civil, family and criminal cases. Within a short period he was committed to an exclusively criminal practice. He built a reputation as a hardworking and talented junior barrister and was instructed in many high profile and serious cases, becoming a regular at the Old Bailey.
Lee took silk in 2010 and his reputation was further enhanced. He is now instructed in complex cases across the country. His wide ranging experience includes cases of murder and manslaughter, a variety of sexual cases, from indecent touching to the most recent high profile grooming cases, robberies ranging from domestic burglaries to sophisticated armed robberies of banks; international cases of drugs and human trafficking. A major part of his practice has also involved serious fraud cases, including large scale VAT cases featuring bonded warehouses, cheating the revenue and bribery.
G was a very young county lines drugs dealer as were some of the co-defendants. Execution of a rival who had stolen drugs. The attack was in broad daylight in a public place. Frenzied knife attack by three or more. Twenty four stab wounds, causing death at the scene. Complicated cut-throat defence. Vast amount of telephone and CCTV evidence. Cross examination of pathologist. Victim aged 25. All four defendants and prosecution represented by silks and juniors. Winchester Crown Court
Attempted Murder. Following an argument in a public house the defendant was thrown out and beaten up. He left the scene in his car and soon returned and drove into a crowd of people standing outside the pub. Charged with 7 counts of attempted murder. He was unable to recall the incident in interview. Mental health issues following an attack on him when trying to stop a robbery. Canterbury Crown Court.
P was a loner and heavily autistic. He formed a fascination for violent video games. Over a two year period he wrote threatening letters to leading politicians, including the Prime Minister. He then progressed to sending letters containing threats and various powders, causing maximum distress. Later he sent letters inciting murder and other violent acts towards Muslims. Charged in an indictment containing 22 counts, later reduced to 15 following discussion with prosecution. Mental health issues were at the forefront of this case. The case was investigated by the Anti-Terrorist Squad. Central Criminal Court
The defendant was charged with causing GBH with intent on his wife. Described as a chronic alcoholic, had been violent to his wife over a period of time. The final assault caused her to have a broken spine, amongst other injuries. Previous history of violence was of importance along with his habit for being intoxicated and being under the influence of drugs. Chester Crown Court.
Case concerned a female security guard whilst assisting prisoners to be transported from court was attacked by the defendant and killed by a single kick to the head. He was charged with murder and was disposed by way of hospital order.
Central Criminal Court.
Rochdale sexual offences and grooming case involving nine men accused of raping girls under the age of fifteen. The complainants, from difficult backgrounds, were groomed and used for sex.
Liverpool Crown Court
Fraud by abuse of position. Two brothers in responsible positions with the Metropolitan Police and an international firm, dishonestly gave lucrative contracts to members of their family.
Leeds Crown Court.
A group of Iraqi citizens having been persecuted and tortured by the Sadaqqi regime, escaped to Egypt and hijacked a passenger airline in mid-air along with over 200 passengers. They eventually landed in Stansted via Cyprus and there was a negotiated surrender.
Murder of wife
Murder of girlfriend on Boxing Day 2011
25-handed conspiracy to murder involving Triads based in Soho
Multi-handed drugs related execution following gang war and several shootings
Four-handed murder of a youth whose body was set on fire. Charred remains found by passer-by in the morning proved impossible to identify. Initially believed by the police to be a ritual killing.
Young man beaten and thrown into the river Thames following a party consisting of Gurkha soldiers and other Nepalese men.
Frenzied killing of a man by a 17 year old charged with adult defendants.
Killing following an attack on the family home by two drunken men, successful defence of provocation.
Security men charged with the manslaughter of drunken man whilst being ejected from a nightclub.
The Oxford Grooming Case. Girls as young as 13.
Girls as young as 12 were groomed by a group of older men in West Yorkshire. They were abused systematically for years. This was a very high profile case which was reported in most of the national press.
Human trafficking from Eastern Europe, victim raped and put into prostitution
Parents raping and abusing their own children as young as four over many years.
Historic rape (30 years ago) of step daughter. Successful abuse of process argument based on delay.
17-year old accused of raping a 16-year old following alcohol and cannabis consumption by both.
‘Gang bang’ of law student by youths aged between 15 and 20 years.
Robberies and burglaries
Highly publicised case of aggravated burglary labelled by the media as the first million-pound burglar who raided high value houses.
Defendant charged with armed robberies of banks and building societies over a 5-year period.
“Steaming”, robbing passengers on the underground, in between stops, by many youths rushing into carriages.
Four youths torturing and seriously injuring an elderly woman in her house with a chisel before making off with her valuables.
Other violent crime
GBH of a young father who lost his sight as a result of the attack.
Murder of a young Pakistani bride by her husband and a follow-on trial of the family for neglect of a vulnerable adult – the first case of its kind under s. 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.
Operation Central around Sheffield involving supply of large quantities of heroin.
London based gang supplying to suburbs of London and surrounding cities.
High level production of Class B (amphetamines), £10 million confiscation.
Series of cannabis factories around the country, money laundered through takeaway restaurants and nail bars across the country. Reported as the highest value cannabis production in the UK.
Columbian gang smuggling vast quantities of cocaine.
Large scale mortgage fraud and money laundering resulting from self-certification. Successful defence based on banks knowingly accepting false self-certifications.
Fraudulently changing ownership details at the Land Registry, then re-mortgaging the houses without the knowledge of the householders, thereafter converting the proceeds into gold bullion (never recovered).
Mortgage fraud and subsequent money laundering.
Fraud committed by ticket collectors on the railways, loss calculated in millions of pounds.
Large scale tax cheating scheme to avoid paying of tax by and to licenced doormen across the country.
Large scale counterfeit designer jewellery, brand names including Tiffanys, Chanel, D&G etc.
Allegation of fraudulent VAT reclaim of £165 million. BBC News story here.
Printing counterfeit currency, said to be one of the best ever production of counterfeit sterling notes which flooded the market.
Fraud committed by an Olympic athlete who invented a sports drink used by the England cricket team and other athletes.
Leading case on the subject of ‘hidden assets’.
Recent case in which the Crown claimed £1.5 million resulting in a confiscation order of £1.
A massive drugs conspiracy that was observed from Columbia to the West Indies to Spain then through Europe before ending in the UK. Covert surveillance was carried out in different parts of the world by different police forces. It was necessary to call expert evidence as to law and procedures relating to Swiss law.
200kgs of heroin was uplifted connected to other imports of similar magnitude. The defendant was said to be a prominent political figure in the PKK and raising money through large scale drugs trafficking. This case entailed research into the position of Kurds in the Middle East, in particular Turkey, and the political implications thereof.
The defendants were charged with Hijacking a passenger airline (with 250 passengers) and landing at Stansted via Cyprus. High publicity case which developed the law of necessity and duress of circumstances further. The case also established the principle that such a defence is for the jury to consider and not the trial judge.
Conducted a number of Snakehead cases, including R v L & others , R v W & others. The Snakeheads originated in the Fujiyan province of China who for centuries facilitated Chinese people to travel within various provinces of China. In the 90s they were responsible for many illegal entrants into the UK. People were brought over with false documentation or smuggled in lorries. They were then often kept hostage until a fee was paid in China. Travel agents with a nasty bite!
Facilitation of individuals from the Indian subcontinent to the UK via Africa and Europe and then facilitating their entry into the USA, in the main using false passports and other false documentation by an international gang.
Highly publicised case using a corrupt Customs officer at Lunar House in Croydon to grant visas to overstayers. An international conspiracy involving both immigrants and gang members of different nationalities.
Trafficking of Eastern Europe females for prostitution. Organised crime based in different countries.
International Financial Crime
International cyber credit card fraud involving the Dark Market, investigated by the FBI.
Bollywood film producers fraudulently claiming film tax relief and VAT.
Pharmaceutical fraud whereby counterfeit drugs including those routinely prescribed to heart patients were produced in China, smuggled into Europe via the Indian sub continent, re-packaged and distributed to European countries including the UK and sold in high street pharmacies.
A ‘boiler room’ fraud whereby worthless shares were sold from Spain to investors based all over Europe. The operation had been set up by fraudulent brokers from the USA and millions were siphoned to the USA via UK accounts.
First production of false cheque cards using skimming machines and encoders. Base material produced in China, card details obtained in the USA and European countries and primarily used in UK causing high value loss to customers. A sting operation initiated by the FBI and assisted by Interpol and Scotland Yard.
Cybercrime involving nationals from many countries, leading to 60 arrests across Europe and Turkey. The FBI set up a sting operation from the USA on the internet trading in thousands of live cheque card details. Loss calculated in millions. Criminals from all over the world joined in and traded, illustrating the lack of frontiers in cybercrime.
Terrorism Act charge of possessing a computer with encoded material that was said by the Crown to be so complicated that it would take 100 years to decipher.
Professional Commentary and Attribution
"He defends in murder and multi-defendant sexual abuse cases'
Legal 500, 2017
PROFILE: Lee Karu QC
‘His work includes multi-handed murder cases.’
Legal 500, 2018