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CRIMINAL

LAW

Our criminal law department advises on over 2500 criminal matters each year. We offer 24 hour cover at police stations every day of the year. We employ nine highly qualified criminal litigators and advocates who have in total 150 years of experience in both Magistrates Court and Crown Court. Geoffrey Forrester has been identified in the Legal 500 as one of the foremost criminal practitioners in the whole of the North East.

QUALITY
LEGAL ADVICE

All road traffic offences including exceptional hardship arguments and applications to restore driving licences

All dishonesty-based offences including allegations of benefit fraud 

Sex Offences including historic sex cases

Murder and other homicide charges

 Drugs offences

Assault and other offences of violence

Public Order offences

THE CRIMINAL LAW TEAM

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GEOFFREY FORRESTER

Geoffrey Forrester is recognised as the leading criminal defence practitioner in the North East of England. He has over 45 years of experience and acts regularly for professional clients on both a legally aided and private paying basis. He has acted in over 20 homicide cases and developed a reputation as a fearless defender of his clients interests.  He also specialises in drink driving and technical defence cases in the Magistrates Court.

MICHELLE STONLEY

Michelle is a Director at the firm and is Head of the Crown Court department.  She began her career in criminal law over 30 years ago when she joined the firm.

 

Michelle initially obtained her Institute of Legal Executives qualification before completing a degree in law at Northumbria University.  She qualified as a solicitor in 2013 and went on to achieve her Higher Courts (Criminal Advocacy) Qualification in 2015, enabling her to appear before the Crown Court.  She is Court duty and police station accredited.

Michelle has successfully dealt with all types of criminal cases including murder, manslaughter, serious sexual offences, drugs conspiracies and proceeds of crime applications.

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DAVID FORRESTER

David Forrester is a Director specialising in criminal law. With over 25 years of advocacy and litigation experience he regularly deals with all types of criminal defence work including murder, manslaughter and serious sexual offences as well as all types of driving offences and benefit fraud matters.

 

David obtained a 2.1honours degree in Law from Durham University and completed the Legal Practice Course at Northumbria University.

 

He is father of two and in his spare time is an avid basketball fan and podcaster.

VALERIE BELL

Val is a director at the firm, specialising in criminal work. Val started her two year Articles at the firm in 1988, having obtained her LLB (Honours) degree at Newcastle Polytechnic. She qualified as a solicitor in 1990.

Val has over 30 years’ experience in dealing with all manner of criminal work. She has a particular interest in representing juveniles and other vulnerable members of society. Val is also qualified as a Duty Solicitor enabling her to represent clients without their own representation at both the police station and Court.

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HELEN FORRESTER

Helen is a Director with over 20 years' experience as a court and police station duty solicitor. 

Helen attended Nottingham Trent University and obtained a 2:1 Law degree (LLB) before attending the College of Law in London to complete her Legal Practice Course.  Helen then completed her training contract with National firm Tuckers in London.

 

She returned to the North East in 2005 when she joined the family firm. She specialises in higher court litigation work and Proceeds of Crime cases whilst also assisting in private client work and managing the practice.

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JADE HOUSTON

Jade joined us in September 2022 after graduating from Sunderland University with a 2:1 Law Degree (LLB).  She is currently working as a paralegal in our Cown Court department.  Jade is enthusiastic and conscientious and has quickly become a key member of our team.

 

SANDRA BURDEN

Sandra joined our firm as a criminal secretary in 2007. After expressing a particular interest in Crown Court matters she began working with the department as a paralegal in 2018.

 

Sandra has dealt with a variety of Crown Court matters including serious sexual offences, driving offences, public order offences and offences against the person. She is responsible for all aspects of Crown Court work including assisting clients with drafting statements, attending criminal trials and supporting the clients alongside their Barrister and instructing experts to file reports within criminal proceedings.

 

Sandra manages her own case load and deals with clients from initial appointments to sentencing hearings and is often praised by clients for her approachable manner and efficiency in dealing with matters.

Jill is a Paralegal who works within our Crown Court department.

Jill has obtained a 2.1 degree in law, as well as a Masters in criminal Law and procedure.

 

Jill has also completed a Legal Executive qualification in criminal law. She has almost 10 years’ experience of working within the Criminal Justice System and has worked on a number of high profile cases, including serious sexual offences and murders.

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