Sean Sullivan


Sean is a calm and focused barrister who both prosecutes and defends allegations of serious crime –and has acted across a wide range of cases.

Background and expertise

Sean has handled allegations of murder, rape, historic sexual abuse, drugs conspiracies and financial offences.


R v P, 2019

Allegation of attempted murder. Sean prosecuted a son who set fire to his disabled mother after dousing her in white spirit. Eventually pleaded as a s.18 GBH and arson with intent. Assisted Judge with detailed sentencing note that resulted in defendant being found to be dangerous and receiving a 21 year sentence. Isleworth Crown Court.

News report here

R v J, 2018

Defending an allegation of attempted murder. The complainant was stabbed seven times to the chest and identified his lodger, the defendant, as his attacker. Sean challenged the complainant’s credibility and asserted his identification was wrong and he had been attacked by someone else. The defendant was acquitted

R v E, 2018

8 defendants aged between 14-16 accused of attempted murder and wounding with intent in two knife attacks in East London. Acting as prosecution junior during five week trial. Dealt with bad character applications and two day sentencing hearing - both complicated by the age of the defendants all of whom were convicted.

News story here

R v O, 2017

Defending an attempted murder allegation deriving from a group knife attack in a night club. Sean ran a series of legal arguments as to the admissibility of forensic and medical evidence that ensured that in due course the prosecution offered no evidence on the attempted murder and accepted a plea to ABH with the defendant receiving a non-custodial sentence.

R v S, 2016

Charged with murder, Smith was the only one of five defendants to be acquitted after a five-week trial. Sean’s cross-examination of the prosecution’s cell site expert helped undermine the prosecution's case. Earlier, in the Divisional Court, Sean had successfully challenged a decision to refuse bail.


R v K, 2020

Prosecuting a trial where the defendant was charged with the illegal import and export of critically endangered European eels. Sean, led by Peter Glenser QC, was instructed by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division after an investigation conducted by the National Crime Agency. European eels are considered so endangered that they are subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and there is a strict prohibition on exporting them to outside of the European Union. The offences spanned a two year period and involved 16 prohibited exports consisting of over 5 million elvers with an eventual retail value in the Far East of over £53 million. The defendant was found guilty of all offences. Southwark Crown Court.

See report here

Serious Fraud Office Investigation

Instructed by the SFO, Sean has conducted an exercise in identifying material subject to legal professional privilege having been seized as part of the investigation.

Financial conduct/regulation project

Sean worked as part of a team of barristers, assisting a leading global bank with its regulatory obligations. He worked directly with bankers and executives to help them meet standards in relation to “know your client” and anti-money laundering requirements. During the project Sean worked from London, Geneva and Monte Carlo.

R v L, 2018

Sean successfully prosecuted a defendant responsible for the illegal importation of rare bird eggs into the UK in contravention of smuggling the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 (CITES).

R v M & M, 2016

Sean, prosecuting, secured convictions against a father and son who were key players in a group of international money launderers. The case involved substantial amounts of telephone data, financial information, and covert surveillance.


R v B, 2019

Sean represented a delivery driver accused of picking up a vulnerable child and raping her after a day of driving her around. He was also charged with a modern slavery offence in relation to transporting her. The trial involved careful cross-examination of a vulnerable and young witness. The defendant was acquitted of modern slavery and convicted of rape. Birmingham Crown Court.

News report here

R v FGF, 2018

Sean defended a university student accused of rape whose DNA was found on a swab of the higher vagina. The defendant insisted he had never penetrated the complainant. Sean challenged the forensic evidence and suggested a risk of contamination due to not following the correct procedure. The defendant was acquitted.


R v Z, 2019

Defending a businessman accused of tying up complainant, holding him hostage, beating him and threatening to kill him. The complainant was discovered bound and bloodied by police. The defence was that he had agreed to be tied up and had set the defendant up. Advancing that defence involved a full on attack on the defendant’s character in cross-examination over three days. Defendant was acquitted on all counts. Manchester Crown Court.

R v A, C & M (ongoing)

Instructed to prosecute three defendants accused of an acid attack in East London.

R v W, 2019

Sean defended a young man accused of kidnapping the complainant whilst armed with a gun. The credibility of the complainant was forcefully challenged and the jury acquitted the defendant.


R v GP (ongoing)

Sean is instructed to defend in a six week trial concerning nine defendants alleged to have conspired to supply cocaine.

R v P, 2017

Sean represented three defendants accused of conspiring to supply cocaine. Sean ran legal arguments at an early stage that led to the prosecution dropping the allegation against two of the defendants; then further legal arguments at trial in relation to non-disclosure that led to the prosecution offering no evidence against the third.

Professional Commentary and Attribution

"He sees the wood from the trees" (Legal 500 -2020)
"His easy-going manner belies the quality of his advocacy, both oral and written." (Legal 500, 2017)
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PROFILE: Sean Sullivan

‘Unafraid, and this shows in his approach to situations.’

Legal 500, 2018

Year called




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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

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Regulatory / Disciplinary

Financial and Corporate law

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VAT Tribunals

Road Traffic

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Road traffic

Direct access



020 7489 2727


BA in jurisprudence, University of Oxford (St Edmund Hall)


CPS Panel (Grade 3) and Rape Panel

Accredited pupil supervisor

Accredited to accept direct public access instructions

Accredited to deal with vulnerable witnesses


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