Stephen Donnelly

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Stephen has developed a substantial practice in criminal law and has broad experience of dealing with cases in the Court of Appeal, the Crown Court and Magistrates’ Court. Since coming to the Bar in 2001 he has maintained instructions both as defence counsel and as prosecuting counsel (for both the CPS and local authorities). He is a Grade 3 CPS Prosecutor.

A considerable proportion of Stephen’s work relates to defence in serious criminal cases where he acts as a leading junior or junior alone. Over many years he has received instructions in respect of high-value confiscation and forfeiture proceedings under POCA 2002. He has significant experience of dealing with cases involving sensitive disclosure issues and ‘intrusive’ policing methods and has delivered lectures specifically dealing with disclosure, evidential presentation and RIPA 2000. He has also presented lectures to local authority enforcement teams in relation to the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and RIPA 2000. 

In recent years Stephen’s practice has focused on the areas of financial crime, serious organised crime and serious sexual offences. He is accustomed to dealing sensitively with young and vulnerable clients and witnesses. Stephen has a particular interest in acting and advising in disciplinary proceedings relating to sports law; over a number of years he represented both trainers and jockeys appearing before disciplinary panels and currently acts as a steward with the British Horseracing Authority.

Recent cases


R v G, Swansea CC – led junior in defence of ‘mercy killing’ allegation.

R v K, Inner London CC – defence in gang-related attempted murder allegation.

R v J, Cardiff CC – junior alone defending in multiple defendant nationwide drug supply conspiracy.

R v R, Swansea CC - junior for lead defendant in drugs supply conspiracy. BBC article

R v M, Nottingham CC – junior alone defending in North Staffordshire ‘grooming’ trial. Multiple allegations of rape. Defendant acquitted. BBC article

R v K and Others, CCC – led junior defending in Operation Articulate; the Aylesbury ‘grooming’ trial. BBC article

R v P and Others, Cardiff CC – led junior defending in trial of nurses accused of ill-treatment of mentally incapacitated patients. Acquitted following legal submissions. BBC article

R v H, Leicester CC – counsel for dentist charged with Ponzi-type fraud.BBC article

R v G and Others, Canterbury CC – counsel defending in multi-handed conspiracy to burgle.

R v A and S, Inner London CC – prosecuting counsel in local authority prosecution of counterfeit tobacco business.

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Notable cases

R v Clarke, Swansea CC - successful defence of an aide to the Shadow Minister for Equalities and Deputey Leader of the Welsh Labour Party, charged with forgery and fraud. Acquittal on all counts, see press reports: BBCGuardianDaily Mail


R v D, Swansea CC – successful defence of manager/owner of children’s nursery accused of force-feeding and other child cruelty allegations. BBC news report

R v B, Cardiff CC – successful defence of teaching assistant accused of assaulting pupil.

R v Knight and Others, Cardiff CC – leading counsel securing acquittal of client in multi-handed conspiracy to cultivate cannabis in properties throughout South Wales and SW England - YouTube video.

R v Uddin and Others, Teesside CC - led junior in multiple defendant conspiracy to supply heroin. Extensive submissions in relation to disclosure and admissibility.

R v Addy, Snaresbrook CC - junior prosecuting alone in case of possession of firearm and ammunition with intent to endanger life. Gang member involved in inter-gang ‘shoot out’; complex sentencing issues, firearm used in five previous incidents. ITV article.

R v Singh, Swansea CC - junior defending alone in case of multiple allegations of male rape; defendant acquitted after trial.

R v Roderick, Warwick CC - junior defending alone in multiple defendant conspiracy to defraud; insurance/warranty sales via ‘cold calls’.

R v Sarah Jones – Following trial, successful appeal against sentence (5 years imprisonment reduced to 6 months). Daily Mail article

R v Gilheaney, Bristol CC - junior defending alone in multiple defendant money laundering case; issues of duress and marital coercion.