Wayne Cleaver


Wayne is an accomplished and committed advocate with over 30 years experience in the criminal courts, both prosecuting and defending in serious cases across the spectrum of offences. His principal emphasis is upon Serious Sexual Offences, Fraud, and Organised Crime. He regularly undertakes cases of the utmost seriousness and complexity, often involving vulnerable or young witnesses, challenging and demanding clients, or multiple defendants. He is experienced at assimilated vast quantities of evidence, reducing it to the core issues, and presenting the material to a jury in the most easily digestible form.

Often instructed as a Leading Junior he has a well-deserved reputation for meticulous preparation, an attention to detail, and a complete mastery of his brief. He provides clear, concise and robust advice to both lay and professional clients on intricate issues of law and fact. He has an engaging court style, is an attractive and natural jury advocate, who combines a delicacy of touch with fearless tenacity in fighting his corner. He always seeks to advance his clients’ cause to best advantage and leads ‘from the front’. An advocate of great integrity he maintains the highest professional standards thereby earning the respect of the judiciary, his colleagues, and clients alike.

Wayne has embraced the challenges of the modern legal profession by fully adapting to digital working and “Better Case Management’ thus ensuring that he remains much in demand as a trial advocate.

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  • Cardiff University - LLB (Hons) 
  • Cambridge University (King’s College) - BCL; MA
  • CPS Panel of Approved Advocates - Grade 4 - South East & Midland Circuits.
  • Specialist Rape & Child Sexual Offences Prosecution Panel.
  • Trained in the presentation of cases involving vulnerable witnesses.
  • Court appointed counsel to cross-examine vulnerable/young witnesses.
  • CBA Assistant Secretary (2018-19) and CBA Secretary (2019-20)

Associations and Memberships

  • Honourable Society of Inner Temple
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • South Eastern Circuit
  • Fraud Lawyers Association
  • Liberty


Wayne’s presentation of a case when acting as Leading Counsel for the Crown in a Murder trial was described by a Senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court as “exemplary and consistent with the highest standards of the Bar … which would have been a source of professional pride to the most experienced and able silk” [HHJ Pontius]

Notable Cases

Operation Gatenby - instructed as leading prosecution counsel (leading Philip Farr) in the Murder trial of R v Heinbergs (Norwich CC). The deceased was attacked by a random stranger in a brutal and unprovoked knife attack. The victim sustained multiple stab wounds to vital internal organs. The prosecution was put to proof on each and every ingredient of the offence - identification; diminished responsibility; loss of self control; self defence; and continuity of DNA and fingerprint evidence.

Operation Rose - instructed as leading prosecution counsel in a five week trial (Chelmsford CC) alleging Conspiracies to Supply Class A Drugs. This was a nationwide conspiracy centred upon London but concerning an organised ‘county lines’ operation extending to various regions of the UK. The trial concerned proof of the involvement of 11 conspirators with close analysis of mobile pone and cellist evidence. Issues were also raised concerning the Modern Slavery Act. Wayne was instructed by Chelmsford CCU.

R v MASON & others [Operation Key] - Wayne Cleaver, leading Philip Farr, secured convictions of all defendants in a four weeks trial at St Albans. The case was the culmination of an under-cover investigation into people trafficking from SE Asia to the UK.

R v WHITTLE (Operation Gryphite) - Wayne Cleaver, leading Joanne Eley, successfully presented the prosecution case during a Murder trial. See BBC report here.

Operation Trace - leading counsel for the prosecution in a multi handed trial against QC’s. A case of large scale Conspiracy to Supply Class A Drugs investigated by the Serious Organised Crime Group. Largely based on multiple strands of circumstantial evidence a compelling picture of the conspiracy was established to prove the case. This was the first criminal trial to involve the analysis and presentation of Caller Line Identity [CLI] ‘Spoofing’ designed to mask the origin of mobile phone traffic and to eliminate all records. This complex and ground-breaking area of evidence was presented through experts in the field, resulting in convictions of those charged.

Operation Gallon - leading for the prosecution in a trial at Cambridge Crown Court investigated by the Serious Organised Crime Group into allegations of Conspiracy to Kidnap and Conspiracy to Blackmail. The case required analysis and presentation of evidence concerning mobile phone data, cell site material, ANPR captures, and composite CCTV material. All defendants were unanimously convicted following a four week trial. Wayne was instructed by Herts CPS.

R v Billingham – Successful prosecution, gaining national press coverage, of father murdering eight year old daughter. See press reports for detail:

  1. BBC
  2. Sky News
  3. The Guardian
  4. The Independent
  5. Express
  6. Mirror

R v CC – successful prosecution of a transgender male for nine sexual offences against a young child over a four year period. The trial required especially delicate handling due to the sensitive gender and diversity issues arising from the defendant’s transgender identity.

R v TW - successful prosecution of a 21 count indictment of historic sexual abuse involving multiple victims. Case required delicate handling of numerous vulnerable and psychologically damaged witnesses both live and via overseas video links.

R v Quatre - Defence in an allegation of Attempted Murder where the offender stabbed a random stranger in the neck, severing the jugular vein, whilst threatening to “take your life in front of your family” and “kill you now”. Case involved detailed cross-examination of an eminent pathologist, Dr Rouse. Defendant acquitted of Attempted Murder.

R v Poole - successful defence of a solicitor for a charge of Wilful Neglect of a Person Lacking Mental Capacity (Sec 44 Mental Capacity Act 2005) in which every ingredient of the offence was in dispute - ie. ‘having the care of’; lacking mental capacity; and wilful neglect. Defendant acquitted.

R v Riahi - Leading Counsel for the Crown in a Murder trial at the Central Criminal Court in which the defendant was convicted of repeatedly stabbing his step-father after suffering racial abuse. Case was entirely based upon inter-linking strands of circumstantial evidence which had to be carefully pieced together. Wayne’s presentation of this “very serious and demanding case” was highly commended by the Trial Judge as “worthy of a place in Treasury Counsel’s room”

R v Priest - Leading Counsel for the defence in a three month trial of a Care Home Manager charged with sixteen offences of ill treatment/neglect of elderly residents under Sec 44 Mental Capacity Act 2005. The first such prosecution of it’s kind in the Crown Court. The case is now the leading authority for offences under this statute: R v Hopkins & Priest [2001] EWCA 1315 - conviction quashed.

R v Napper - led junior (by David Fisher QC) in the defence of the second suspect tried for the highly publicised Murder of Rachel Nickel on Wimbledon Common.

R v Tran & others - Leading junior for the defence in a substantial multi-handed Conspiracy to Cultivate Cannabis on a massive commercial scale. Only defendant acquitted after trial.

R v Benyermak & others - defended one of nine youths accused of gang rape in a nationally publicised trial involving novel issues of witness anonymity.

R v Willoughby - Leading Junior for the defence in a multi-handed trial concerning multiple offences of Armed Robbery and Aggravated Burglary.

R v Leech - Leading Junior for the defence in a trial of fifteen juveniles accused of GBH and Violent Disorder. Only defendant acquitted.

R v Guo & Whacker - led junior (by Elizabeth Marsh QC) for the defence in a high-profile trial of Manslaughter and people smuggling concerning the deaths of 58 Chinese migrants discovered dead whilst concealed in the rear of a lorry at Dover. Case involved the largest number of fatalities in English legal history.

R v Cheal & others - Leading Junior for the defence in multi-handed Conspiracy to Supply Drugs. Trial involved lengthy legal submissions regarding the legality of covert surveillance under the Police Act 1997. Trial lasted 10 months at the conclusion of which the defendant acquitted.

R v SP - acted in the defence of the first woman defendant charged with Malicious Wounding by transmission of the HIV virus to her consenting male partner.

R v Miller - led junior (by Courtney Griffiths QC and then Rock Tansey QC) in a Murder trial of a youth accused of a random drive-by shooting. Cut-throat defence.

R v Farquahrson & others - led junior (by Ed Rees QC) in defence of a cut-throat Murder where the defendant was alleged to have been the ‘inside man’ in an organised wages snatch during which the victim was shot dead.

R v Jaramillo - successful prosecution of a serial paedophile (school caretaker). Defended by QC and junior.

Financial Crime

R v Chatters - successful prosecution of a large-scale serial Fraudster on an indictment containing 18 counts against separate companies. Case involved presentation of complicated, and disputed, handwriting evidence.

R v Pannell - successful prosecution of a Company Director for Fraudulent Trading under Sec 993 Companies Act 2006 involving multiple fraudulent contracts and lease agreements in excess of £1M.

R v Manson - defence of a solicitor, and serial fraudster, prosecuted by the Organised Crime Unit for various offences of Fraud in an elaborate scam to take-over the principal share-holding in ‘Avanta Holdings’ valued in excess of £19M.

R v Brandon-White - prosecution of a company accountant for multiple offences of Theft and False Accounting during his employment. Trial required an in-depth understanding of the ‘Sage’ accounting system and analysis of conflicting Forensic Accountant’s reports. Case defended by QC and junior.

R v Mazambi & others - instructed as Leading Junior for the defence in a Conspiracy to Defraud the National Lottery and other charitable funders of sums in excess of £600K.

R v Lee & others - Leading Junior for the defence in a Conspiracy to Defraud trial (building fraud).

R v Baga - led junior for the defence (by Ann Cotcher QC) in a Conspiracy to Defraud (VAT/carousel) prosecuted by Standing Counsel (QC) to HMRC. Indictment ‘stayed’ for abuse of process following the ‘Bond House’ decision.

R v Nichol & others - Leading Junior for the defence in the trial (prosecuted by QC) of the ‘Peacock Gym Gang’ concerning various conspiracies to handle stolen goods and steal cash including £1.2M from an HSBC depository at Gatwick Airport.

R v Drewitt - Leading Junior for the defence in multi-handed Conspiracy to Defraud (prosecuted by QC) and associated contested Confiscation proceedings.