Marianne Alton

Call To The Bar: 2014

Call To The Bar: 2014

Marianne is a diligent and persuasive advocate who prides herself on meticulous case preparation and client care. She enjoys a reputation for hard work and sound judgement. As well as undertaking work typical of her call, she has acted as junior counsel in a series of significant pieces of criminal litigation including cases rooted in organised crime. Alongside maintaining a busy practice in England, Marianne is a trustee of a legal charity Evolve – FILA that provides pro bono assistance in Uganda to improve access to justice, build capacity within the legal profession and promote fairness, integrity and efficiency within the Ugandan criminal justice system. In November 2018, Marianne was selected as Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year at the Bar Council’s Annual and Young Bar Conference in recognition of her pro bono work in Uganda.

CRIMINAL AND REGULATORY WORK:

Marianne is regularly instructed in a wide range of criminal defence and prosecution work, including offences of serious violence, dishonesty, drugs, sexual offences, public disorder, regulatory offences and confiscation proceedings. Marianne prepares and presents legal applications and arguments, such as dismissal, abuse of process, disclosure, applications to exclude evidence and submissions of no case to answer. In addition to rapidly developing a successful defence practice, Marianne is regularly instructed to prosecute both in private prosecutions and on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service. She is a level 3 CPS panel prosecutor and was appointed by the Director of the Serious Fraud Office (‘SFO’) as Prosecution Counsel on the Panel C List. Examples of recent cases are set out below.

Examples of Marianne’s criminal work include:

 Led –

R v MO & others (Op Tradite North 2) – importation of class A drugs (ongoing). Led prosecution junior in a case involving 25 defendants, three trials (each with an estimate of around five months), over 100,000 pages of served evidence and a potential street valuation of £2 – £7 billion. Instructed by the International Justice and Organised Crime Division (IJOCD) of the CPS

R v TAD & others (Op Gradative 2) – modern-slavery and conspiracy to supply and produce cannabis. Led prosecution junior in a case involving allegations of enslavement in the domestic context and later in the context of cannabis farms. Instructed by the IJOCD.

R v JHS & others (Op Poppy) – conspiracy to murder. Ride-by shooting outside of a nightclub in the North East of England. The investigation was rooted in organised crime and involved a complex and heavy disclosure burden. Marianne was instructed as disclosure counsel for a year and a half and throughout the 11-week trial at the Central Criminal Court. Instructed by the IJOCD.

R v PC & others (Op Gaines) – murder. Instructed as junior prosecution counsel. The deceased suffered a catastrophic brain injury after being struck to the head with a metal bar. Instructed by Manchester CPS.

R v ZA and another (Op Clumber) – murder. Instructed as junior prosecution counsel. The deceased was stabbed to death with a large hunting type knife. Instructed by Manchester CPS.

R v JW – attempted murder. Instructed as junior defence counsel. Stabbing in which the victim was left in a coma from which he never recovered.

R v AC & others (Op Lithium) – disclosure counsel in a multi-million-pound MTIC VAT fraud. Instructed by the CPS Complex Case Unit.

Unled –

R v GW – instructed for the prosecution. The defendant was prosecuted for possession of a shotgun and a sniper rifle. Instructed by the IJOCD.

R v JB – section 18 assault, defending. The injuries were three incised wounds as a result of an alleged ‘glassing’, with one of the shards of glass having penetrated through the chin and into the base of the tongue. Defendant acquitted of section 18 assault following trial.

R v MM – section 18 assault and robbery, defending. The Prosecution case was that the defendant had beaten the complainant around the face with a cricket bat and threatened him with a knife. Marianne drew attention to caselaw that indicated that the facts of the case could not found a robbery allegation. On the day of trial, the Prosecution accepted a guilty plea to section 20 assault only.

R v MM – violent disorder, defending. Offence said to have taken place during the ‘Million Mask March’ in London. Successful application to exclude the statement of a police officer purporting to identify the defendant. Defendant acquitted following trial.

R v BM – possession of class A drugs (cocaine) with intent to supply, defending. Acquitted following trial.

R v KM – robbery (at knife point), defending. Trial centred on recognition evidence given by two witnesses and a police officer. Police officer cross-examined in relation to numerous breaches of the PACE codes. Defendant acquitted following trial.

RSPCA v JK – fraud in context of alleged puppy farming, defending. Secured a stay of proceedings following submissions on abuse of process.

R v DM – burglary, defending. The defendant (who was 19) was charged with a dwelling house burglary and theft of a motor vehicle. He had three previous convictions for dwelling house burglaries accumulated as a youth. Marianne drafted written submissions in relation to the sufficiency of the evidence. Following receipt of those submissions, the Crown dropped the burglary and theft charges and accepted a plea to aggravated vehicle taking. The defendant received a suspended sentence.

R v PW – ABH, defending. Defendant contended that the injuries sustained by the complainant were self-inflicted. Acquitted following trial at Preston Crown Court.

R v GM – ABH, defending. Successful half time submission on the basis of fundamental weaknesses and inconsistencies in the prosecution evidence.

Examples of Marianne’s regulatory work include:

R v JK – led junior for the defence in a Trading Standards prosecution concerning the sale of £1.5 million worth of counterfeit goods. Defendant received a suspended sentence.

R v RU – defence of a man in a Trading Standards prosecution concerning the sale of counterfeit wheel caps. The Prosecution calculated the loss to trademark holders to be £84,570. Defendant pleaded guilty and Marianne persuaded the Court to impose a Community Order. The Prosecution had served a 42-page authorities bundle supporting the contention that the starting point should be custody.

Examples of Marianne’s proceeds of crime work include:

R v PC – confiscation proceedings, defending. Case resolved on the basis that the recoverable amount was nil and the benefit figure was a third of the figure originally advanced by the Crown.

R v CF – confiscation proceedings, defending. Prosecution alleged hidden assets. Case resolved on the basis that the recoverable amount was a sixth of the figure originally put forward by the Crown.

R v YC – complex forfeiture appeal. A settlement was reached resulting in the return of a significant portion of the seized monies to the appellant.

INTERNATIONAL LAW AND DEATH PENALTY WORK:

Marianne has a keen interest in cases involving an international element and volunteers with the charity Evolve FILA, which currently provides pro bono criminal justice development consultancy advice in Uganda. Through the charity, Marianne has worked on numerous capital cases heard before the High Court and appellate courts of Uganda, almost all of which have resulted in the death sentence being set aside. Examples include:

RI v Uganda – drafted submissions under supervision. Novel application in which the Supreme Court of Uganda was persuaded that their own decision to uphold a death sentence was a nullity as they had failed to apply their own caselaw. The application was allowed, the death sentence was quashed and a determinate sentence was ultimately imposed.

BM v Uganda – drafted submissions in a capital case before the Kampala High Court. Defendant suffered from mental health problems and had served around 20 years in prison following his conviction for murder. Submissions addressed international and Ugandan caselaw on the test for the death penalty and the approach to be taken to cases involving individuals with mental disorders at the time of the offence and/or sentence. The death sentence was not maintained and a determinate sentence was imposed.

KD v Uganda – assisted drafting written submissions in an appeal against conviction (murder) and sentence (death). The Court of Appeal of Uganda allowed the appeal, quashed the conviction and released the appellant.

ROAD TRAFFIC: 

Marianne provides advice and representation in all areas of road traffic law. Examples of her recent cases include:

R v TA – failure to provide a specimen of blood for analysis, defending. Acquitted.

R v IB – careless driving, defending. Acquitted.

R v MH – careless driving, defending. Drafted submissions on the definition of a ‘road’. Prosecution discontinued on day of trial.

R v DB – careless driving, failing to stop, failing to report – defending. Acquitted.

R v SM – careless driving – defending. Acquitted.

R v WB – driving whilst using a mobile phone. Successful appeal to the crown court.

R v ST – failing to provide driver information. Successful appeal to the crown court.

R v JR – successful exceptional hardship argument.

R v CM – successful special reasons argument.

R v SL –suspended sentence following guilty pleas to dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified and using a car without insurance.

R v GB – suspended sentence following guilty pleas to three counts of dangerous driving.

PRISON LAW: 

Marianne represents prisoners at Parole Board hearings including cases relating to post tariff lifer and IPP reviews. Many of her cases have involved contested expert psychological evidence. Recent cases include:

The Parole Board v AJ – successful application for release at an oral hearing for a post-tariff IPP sentenced prisoner.

OTHER EXPERIENCE AND PRO BONO WORK:

After graduating from the University of Oxford with a degree in Philosophy and Theology, Marianne completed the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Bar Professional Training Course through the University of Law and was awarded a first class LLB. During her studies, Marianne received a number of scholarships and awards including an Exhibition from Pembroke College, Oxford and the Hardwicke Entrance Award, Lord Denning major scholarship and the Sunley scholarship from Lincoln’s Inn.

Gaining experience prior to the Bar, Marianne has been involved in a number of projects that have developed her skills with a wide range of people from different backgrounds, including vulnerable people. This included spending a full-time, fully funded gap year working in a homeless centre in Salford. Marianne also volunteered for a number of charities and pro bono organisations, including the Free Representation Unit. For example, prior to commencing pupillage she acted pro bono in an employment case, resulting in an award of over £24,000 in favour of her client.

Although she has now chosen to focus her practice on criminal and regulatory work, Marianne previously enjoyed a mixed practice and has a wide range of experience including in immigration and civil law. She has acted successfully before the First-tier and Upper tribunal – including in relation to cases turning on human rights arguments. In her civil work, Marianne undertook work for both claimants and defendants and acted successfully in small claim and fast track trials.

In 2014, Marianne was awarded a Kalisher Trust scholarship which enabled her to spend six months working on a capital mitigation project in Uganda. The project assisted those convicted of capital crimes at the sentencing stage as well as on appeal. All of the cases with which she dealt were extremely serious in nature, being either murder or aggravated robbery cases. Marianne continues to be involved with the project on a pro bono basis and is a trustee of a legal charity – Evolve FILA – whose volunteer barristers have assisted hundreds of prisoners on death row in Uganda. Marianne regularly assists on capital cases heard before the High Court and appellate courts of Uganda through Evolve and is developing its access to justice project. In January 2018, Marianne was amongst a group of barristers and judges who presented at the Annual Judges’ Conference in Uganda on inconsistencies and disparities in sentencing practice and policy. As a result of the conference, a number of important reforms to sentencing practice are being implemented by the Ugandan judiciary, including revising their Sentencing Guidelines.

In November 2018 Marianne was awarded Young Pro Bono Barrister of the Year at the Bar Council’s Annual and Young Bar Conference in recognition of her pro bono work in Uganda.