Stephen Vullo QC

Year of Call: 1996  Silk: 2014  


Overview


Stephen Vullo QC has a significant criminal defence practice that runs alongside his advisory work in the field of cyber security and other related business issues. Frequently instructed at an early stage to give tactical advice. For example he has advised a large Internet Service Provider in relation to resisting a request by the United States Government for the IP addresses of customers said, following an F.B.I. investigation, to have connections to terrorism and fraud. The request was eventually withdrawn.

A well known international security company sought his advice to ensure that proposed ‘sting operations’ to root out fraud and breach of trust were constructed in such a way as to maximise the potential for the evidence obtained to be admissible in the UK courts. A large London brokerage firm asked for his tactical assistance in terms of a conflict that they had with an international merchant bank in respect of compliance and potential insider trading.

He is now advising numerous companies and other organisations in respect of the upcoming implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and is working in close association with a well-known Cyber Security firm providing a full health check service.

Criminal Defence Practice – Stephen Vullo QC has been instructed to defend in many of the most high profile criminal cases in this jurisdiction in recent years. His previous clients include;

  • His Royal Highness Saud Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Saud, the Saudi Royal Prince accused of murder in the Landmark Hotel;
  • Sean McGuigan one of the blackmailers involved in trying to extort money from a member of the British Royal family;
  • Yassin Omar one of the 21st July London Bombers (on appeal and in the ECHR);
  • Dr Bilal Abdullah, the “Glasgow Bomber’;
  • Lance Corporal Cooley one of the British soldiers accused of abusing Iraqi prisoners at Camp Bread Basket, referred to in the international media as ‘Britain’s Abu Ghraib’ who was tried in a Courts Martial in Germany.

He has defended in dozens of homicide, fraud, rape/sexual offences and drug importation cases and has regularly appeared in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division. In terms of homicide he has a wealth of experience in dealing with cases of murder and manslaughter, including gross negligence manslaughter, that involve complex expert evidence and issues of law.

He acted in the case that changed the law relating to the application of Article 6 Rights during the extradition process in an appeal to the Supreme Court, Halligen and others [2012] UKSC 20.

Mr Vullo is regularly asked to review cases of those who have been convicted to assess whether he can identify grounds of appeal.  One notable example is the case of Dennis Patrick Richard Slade, Michael Nicholas Baxter, Richard Andrew Pearman v Crown [2015] EWCA Crim 71. Mr Vullo acted for Slade who along with his co-defendants had been convicted of conspiracy to murder and other related offences in 2009. He first asked for Mr Vullo’s assistance in 2012. After an appeals process that lasted three years the convictions of Slade and all his co-defendants were overturned and a retrial ordered.

The retrial of Slade was heard in late 2015 with Mr Vullo representing him. Following disclosure requests made by the defence the Crown were compelled to offer no evidence which led the trial judge Mr Justice Globe to invite the Attorney General to investigate whether there were failings on the prosecution side during the first trial. This matter continues with a judicial review and further appeal in respect of other matters pending.

Stephen Vullo QC is frequently instructed in high profile celebrity cases and is frequently retained where historical allegations of sexual abuse are being made. He has acted in more than one Operation Yewtree case.

He represented Dave Lee Travis in both his first trial and retrial. Following that case he was asked to take over the representation of Rolf Harris who had previously been convicted on 12 counts of indecent assault in 2014. Stephen Vullo QC defended Mr Harris in two further trials which resulted in not guilty verdicts being entered in relation to each allegation and has recently overturned one conviction from the first trial in the Court of Appeal.

Nominated Legal 500 Criminal Silk of the Year 2017

Member of 2 Bedford Row’s Criminal and Cyber Security Team’s

Crime


Cases

  • R v McGuighan: The defendant with a ‘Walter Mitty’ character as an accomplice attempted to blackmail a prominent member of the Royal Family armed with covertly recorded video tapes of a royal aide during drug and drink fuelled parties claiming amongst other things to have had oral sex with the royal concerned. This case involved very complex issues of privacy and protection for the victim. It led to unique orders being made for parts of the trial to be heard in camera with the public and press galleries closed save for a small number of vetted members of the media.
  • R v Bucpapa: £53m armed robbery and kidnapping. A seven month trial at the Old Bailey representing one of the armed gang said to have kidnapped the manager of the Securitas Depot in Kent, his wife and 8 year old child. Members of the gang wearing prosthetic disguises and dressed as policemen stopped the manager on his way home from work and took him to a farm where his wife and child were being held having been kidnapped from their home again by members of the gang dressed as policemen. Stephen Vullo conducted all of the very substantial cross-examination in respect of cell site analysis. The Crown’s expert gave evidence for over 2 weeks. He also dealt with all the cross-examination of the forensic scientist on the issue of LCN DNA profiling.
  • R v Hoxhosmani: An allegation of kidnap for ransom committed over a 3-day period by a gang of human traffickers attempting to collect an alleged debt owed to them by the owner of a massage parlour.
  • R v Lance Corporal Cooley & Ors: This case was relentlessly reported by the media all over the world and is still the subject of both press and television commentary. It involved allegations of abuse of Iraqi looters in ‘Camp Bread Basket’, Basra, Southern Iraq by soldiers of the 1st Battalion Royal Fusiliers. The ‘abuse’ was photographed and included images of Iraqi’s being suspended from a fork lift truck and being forced to strip and simulate sexual acts.
  • R v Campbell: S.18 accusation – represented Sol Campbell’s brother accused of seriously assaulting the complainant following homophobic comments made about Sol Campbell at a football training ground.
  • R v Hyde: An accusation of false imprisonment, assault and robbery of 2 transsexual prostitutes who the defence alleged had stolen an MP’s briefcase.
  • R v Moore: A 16-year-old girl accused of abducting a baby for 2 days following a phantom pregnancy.
  • R v Linden: Represented a man accused of seriously sexually/physically assaulting another male on a train.

Murder & Manslaughter


Cases

  • R v T: The defendant was charged with the possession of a firearm with intent. He had been chased across a well know London Park by police officers who gave evidence that they saw the defendant discard the item that was later found to be a loaded handgun in a sock. The case involved intricate analysis of gunshot shot residue (GSR) expert evidence, fibre evidence and DNA. The defendant was acquitted but has since been charged with murder where the same gun had been discharged two weeks earlier during a home invasion/revenge killing.
  • R v Wayne McDonald: Led junior – This case involved a double attempted murder following a shooting outside a nightclub in Bolton. The offence dated back to 2000 as the defendant was only arrested after being detained following the shooting of a police woman during a bungled raid of a Public House.
  • R v Felix: The defendant was charged with attempted murder and possession of a firearm. The Crown’s case was that the defendant had gone to a rival’s property where drugs were stored with the intention of stealing them. During the robbery one of the occupants of the premises was shot in the head but survived. The defendant did not deny being at the address during that night but maintained he knew nothing of the shooting and that it must have happened minutes after he had left. The crown relied on an expert in cell site analysis who had concluded that the defendant’s mobile telephone was at the scene of the shooting at the exact time. After detailed and lengthy cross examination of the expert it was shown that in fact the opposite was true and the defendant’s telephone (along with the defendant) had left the scene approximately 6 minutes before the shooting occurred. The defendant was acquitted.
  • R v ESP: The defendant was charged with 4 others with conspiracy to murder. The Crown alleged that the savage attack on the victim by two men with kitchen knives was well planned after significant reconnaissance.
  • R v ESP: The defendant was charged with 4 others with conspiracy to murder. The Crown alleged that the savage attack on the victim by two men with kitchen knives was well planned after significant reconnaissance.
  • R v R: Leading counsel in the trial and retrial The client opted to remain in custody for an additional 6 months to wait for a date that Stephen Vullo could conduct his retrial.. The Crown’s case was that the murder was a drugs killing. It involved the challenging of DNA, call data, cell site, fibres and blood splatter evidence.
  • R v Terry Sherman: The victim was lured to a country lane and shot by a masked gunman with a sten gun. He was in front of his wife and child. The execution was ordered due to a drug related debt. The defendant was one of four defendants and was said to be the getaway driver for his close friend Wayne Collins who was the gunman. The defendant was acquitted after a 3 month trial at the Central Criminal Court. The other 3 defendants were convicted and received life sentences with minimum terms of 33-30 years. The trial involved a wealth of expert evidence from the usual DNA, fingerprints and cell site analysis to the more unusual of a use of a palynology expert (pollen and plant analysis).
  • R v Aujila: An 87 year old cab driver was violently assaulted and knocked to the ground by the defendant who then stole his taxi. The defendant did a three point turn and ran over the victim as he lay prone in the road. He later burnt out the car in an alley behind his house and claimed to have no memory of the incident due to alcohol. Stephen Vullo conducted the cross-examination of the experts giving evidence as to alcohol back calculation and the effects of alcohol on the ability to form intent and the memory.
  • R v O’Flynn: This involved the contract killing of a well known member of the criminal underworld. It was suspected that this was the latest murder connected to the ongoing disputes and fallout from the Brinks Mat gold bullion case. The case rested almost entirely on cell site evidence and the defendant’s DNA found on a cigarette butt at the scene.
  • R v Robinson: Two days after the shooting of PC Beshenivsky in Bradford her murderer Muzzaker Shah left a council estate in South London where he had been in hiding to travel to Wales. He was assisted by the defendant who with another drove him to Wales. The defendant then rented premises and stayed with Shah for nearly two weeks before the Police laid siege to the flat. After nearly 24 hours the defendant convinced Shah to surrender. A great deal of the Crown’s case relied upon cell site evidence.
  • R v Pearman: A bungled contract killing where the defendant was the driver of the vehicle in a drive by shooting. It was suspected that the victim, who was shot in front of his 6 year old daughter and two year old son outside his parents address, was in fact the brother of the intended target. The defendant attempted to burn out the vehicle used but the fire did not take hold and his DNA was found in the vehicle. This case featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme and the gunman remains at large.
  • R v Pinto & Ors: Appeared as leading junior in a conspiracy to murder. This was the high profile ‘Angolan Witchcraft’ case tried at the Old Bailey where the defendants were accused of torturing and then placing an eight year old girl in a bag and threatening to drown her in a river. This was investigated by the police unit set up after the ‘Torso in the Thames case’ and has been the subject of a number of television documentaries.
  • R v Onyett: An alcoholic 17-year-old boy stabbed his father to death on Christmas Day.
  • R v Woolley & Ors: A multi-handed revenge attack that led to a stabbing outside a nightclub. The defendant was extradited from Canada to face trial. Led by Michael Wolkind QC.
  • R v Dafonte: A ‘shaken baby’ case. Represented the Father in a trial where the Mother gave evidence for the Crown.

Serious Sexual Offences


Cases

  • R v Uddin: The defendants were charged with kidnap, blackmail, various assaults including sexual assault on a male with one of the defendants charged with rape of the same victim. The trial lasted for just under 2 months and presented a myriad of problems to be overcome. The first was a legal matter relating to whether the complainant could have anonymity in respect of the sexual offences. Expert evidence was served late in relation to the download from a mobile phone on the very contentious issue of whether the defendant had photographed the sexual assault on his mobile phone. At one stage the crown’s expert refused to disclose how he had obtained the material quoting copyright problems with the program he had written. This evidence was eventually excluded after a voir dire.
  • R v Uddin: The defendants were charged with kidnap, blackmail, various assaults including sexual assault on a male with one of the defendants charged with rape of the same victim. The trial lasted for just under 2 months and presented a myriad of problems to be overcome. The first was a legal matter relating to whether the complainant could have anonymity in respect of the sexual offences. Expert evidence was served late in relation to the download from a mobile phone on the very contentious issue of whether the defendant had photographed the sexual assault on his.
  • R v Perry: Defendant charged with ‘date rape’ of an actress. Evidence of a previous conviction for a like offence committed in Australia for which the defendant had served 7 years in prison went before the jury. The defendant was acquitted.
  • R v McConville: Represented a Catholic Priest accused of child abuse dating back to the 1970’s when he worked in a children’s home run by the Catholic Society.
  • R v X: Represented an Olympic Judo coach, accused of sexually assaulting young men that he trained.
  • R v (X): Represented a local councillor/juvenile magistrate against allegations of serious child abuse in the 1980’s when he ran a large children’s home in the East End.

Directory Quotes


“He has the mind of a chess player, the guts of a boxer and his good nature with clients is second to non.” Legal 500 2018

Qualifications


  • LLB Hons, Guildhall University