Neil Usher

Call To The Bar: 1993

Well-prepared and always goes the extra mile to represent his clients.’ – The Legal 500, 2021

‘Fearsome in his pursuit of his client’s best interests.’ – The Legal 500, 2018

‘A personable barrister with a poweful intellect.’ – The Legal 500, 2017

OVERVIEW

Neil has a busy criminal practice, divided fairly evenly between defending andprosecuting. He is a Category 4 Prosecutor and is member of the Rasso panel. In addition to his criminal practice, he also regularly appears in the Medical Practitioners’ Tribunal, acting for the GMC in Fitness to Practice proceedings.

He also sits as a Recorder in the Family Court, sitting in Liverpool.

Since 2012, Neil has focussed much of work on serious sexual offences and homicide cases.

In 2012, he was junior prosecution counsel in the first Rochdale grooming case heard inLiverpool – Operation Span.

Since then he has acted as leading junior for the CPS Complex Crime Unit in a large number of linked Rochdale grooming cases, including Operation Routh and OperationDoublet, trials 1-4.

In 2015, Neil successfully prosecuted the former TV weatherman, Fred Talbot, for historic child sex offences.

He also prosecuted a former Premier League footballer for offences of rape.

Notable Cases

R v Arif Ansari – Neil was instructed by the Complex Crime Unit to prosecute the editor of the BBC’s Asian Network for allowing the name of one of the victims of the Rotherham grooming cases to be named during a live BBC broadcast. The defendant was represented by a leading QC.

R v Kim Tran – Neil successfully prosecuted a Crown Court translator for conspiring to pervert the course of justice by assisting a defendant to falsely claim she was a child defendant.

Operation Caspian: Neil was again leading junior for the prosecution. Each defendant had two counsel. People trafficking conspiracy and conspiracy to launder in excess of £1m. Complex banking evidence, difficult issues around meaning of forced labour, numerous vulnerable witnesses. Each defendant was convicted following a four week trial.

Homicide

R v Bennett – Neil secured the acquittal of his client following trial. Mr Bennet was a restaurant customer accused of the manslaughter of a fellow customer by pushing him to the floor causing fatal brain injuries. Causation of death being one of the issues in the case, involving the consideration of three neurosurgeons’ reports.

R v Dawick and Flynn – successfully prosecuted parents of a baby murdered by the father. Both defendants represented by QC’s and juniors. Neil prosecuted without a junior. Complex medical evidence from seven experts. Case involving the recent law of allowing a child to be killed.

R v Michael Marler – Neil successfully prosecuted the defendant on a count of murder. The defendant stabbed his girlfriend to death before jumping from a window and landing on a passing vehicle. Defendant represented by QC and junior. Neil prosecuted without a junior.

R v Hedley Plummer – instructed by the Complex Crime Unit to prosecute this murder case. Defendant represented by QC and junior. Neil prosecuted without a junior.

Sexual Offences

R v DL – Neil successfully represented a female teacher accused of sexual activity with a 15 year old pupil, in a case which generated much national publicity. Through the efforts of Neil and his solicitor we were able to show the complainant had sold his story to The Sun newspaper in advance of giving evidence.

Neil represented the “Northern Quarter serial sex attacker” – Abdoulaye Diallo. The defendant attempted to violently rape three women in Manchester City Centre in the early hours of the morning. The incidents led to the police issuing CCTV footage of the assailant in an attempt to identify him. Notwithstanding the gravity of the offences, Neil was able to secure a sentence which will allow the defendant to apply for parole in under four years.

R v PD and Another – Successfully defended his 17 year old client who was tried for the joint rape of a 14 year old family member. At the close of the prosecution case Neil submitted there was ‘no case to answer’ given weaknesses in the account of the complainant during his cross-examination of her. Unusually where the issue was the credibility of the complainant’s account, the trial Judge agreed and directed Neil’s client and his co-defendant be found not guilty. Earlier in the trial Neil had also successfully adduced evidence of a previous false allegation of rape, and made a successful application to adduce evidence of the complainant’s alleged sexual history (s.41).

Operation Span – the first of the Rochdale grooming cases, heard at Liverpool over an eight week period. Ten defendants and nine convictions. The case generated intense national debate on the nature of grooming gangs.

Operation Routh: another Rochdale grooming case. Leading junior for the prosecution. There were ten defendants, eight of whom were convicted. The case involved difficult issues around ‘recent complaint evidence’, legal professional privilege, and abuse of process. The appeals against conviction and sentence were heard by Lord Chief Justice who gave a leading judgment on sentences in grooming cases. Appeals resisted by Neil. Appeals refused.

R v Abbondandolo and others: Neil was leading junior. Another Rochdale grooming case with seven defendants of whom five were convicted. A difficult case involving issues around the meaning of incitement and disclosure issues.

Operation Infrared: Rochdale child sexual exploitation case. Neil was again leading junior for the prosecution. Five defendants, all convicted. Difficult issues around disclosure, three extremely vulnerable child victims, who were all ‘looked after’ children.

R v Fred Talbot: Neil was instructed by the Complex Crime Unit to prosecute the well known former TV weatherman for historic sex offences committed in England and Scotland. No junior. The defendant was represented by a senior QC. A case involving difficult issues including jurisdictional issues and hearsay. High profile, national TV interest. Convicted after trial.

Operation Doublet 1: Rochdale conspiracy to rape grooming case. Neil was again leading junior for the prosecution. Six week trial. Five defendants, three represented by QC’s and juniors. The trial involved a vulnerable and hostile complainant. Intermediary required. National media coverage. Majority convicted, including each represented by a QC. All appeals refused.

Operation Doublet 2: Rochdale CSE case. Neil was again leading junior for the prosecution. Eight defendants, 29 count indictment. Seven week trial. Difficult issues around meaning of consent, hearsay, vulnerable victim needing an intermediary. Seven defendants convicted.

Operation Doublet 3: Rochdale CSE case. Neil was leading junior for the prosecution. Seven defendants, all convicted following a six week trial. Principal victim was herself serving a life sentence and who needed an intermediary.