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Joanna Martin QC

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Core Practice Area: Crime
2005 (Solicitor: 1996) QC: 2018
Middle Temple
  BA Hons English Literature; LLB - Law
   Recorder Jan 2016. 
   Criminal Bar Association, Western Circuit, Western Circuit Women’s Forum

Jo is licensed to accept work under the Public access scheme


"Thorough, hardworking, and tactical." - Legal 500 (2021 - Leading Silk)
"Her incisive eye cuts to the core of a case with ease" - Legal 500 (2018 - Leading Silk)
"She charms juries with her down-to-earth manner."- Legal 500 (2016 - Leading Junior)


Jo qualified as a solicitor in 1996. She worked for the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service, latterly as a Crown Court advocate. She was called to the Bar in 2005 and has practised at Devon Chambers since then.

She was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2018. She was the first barrister practising solely from Chambers in Plymouth to be made silk and is the first female silk in Plymouth.

Since taking silk, Jo has built upon the substantial practice in heavyweight crime that she enjoyed as a junior and has cemented her reputation as one of the most sought-after barristers on the Western Circuit. She is regularly instructed by both the Prosecution and the Defence in crimes of the utmost gravity. She is has a particular specialism in child cruelty and child fatality cases and cases involving complex medical issues. She is well-known for the care with which she handles cases involving young and vulnerable witnesses and defendants.

In addition, as a junior barrister, Jo was recognised as an expert in financial crime, confiscation and cases under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Her work in this field ranged from advising the Prosecution pre-charge to representing appellants before the Supreme Court. She maintains a strong interest in this area of the law.

Meticulous in her preparation and knowledge of the law, Jo understands the importance above all in instilling confidence in her clients. She is well regarded for the ability that she has to convey complicated issues in a ‘jury-friendly’ manner.

Jo is the lead advocacy trainer on the Western Circuit pupillage programme. She has trained police officers, CPS advocates and local authority lawyers on confiscation and money laundering issues. She was a founder member of the Western Circuit Women’s Forum and acts as a mentor to junior female barristers. She undertakes pro bono work on behalf of Advocate.


Supreme Court

R-v-Harvey (Jack Frederick) Supreme Court [2015] UKSC 73; Court of Appeal: [2013] EWCA Crim 1104 (defending from the Crown Court to the Supreme Court). The point ultimately dealt with by the Supreme Court was whether VAT that had been paid to or accounted for to HMRC should be included (as the Crown contended) in the gross turnover figure of a company when assessing the level of confiscation to be paid. The Supreme Court held (in favour of the defence) that the VAT should be excluded.

Court of Appeal

R-v-Elliot Allen [2017] EWCA Crim 458 - successful appeal against sentence passed on a young driver who had pleaded guilty to death by dangerous driving. The sentence was reduced significantly from 2 years 6 months to 12 months.

R-v-Michael Wilkes [2017] EWCA Crim 577 - successful defence against appeal by the Attorney General that the sentence of 6 years and 8 months for an elderly defendant who had pleaded guilty to attempted murder was unduly lenient.

R-v-Burridge [2010] EWCA Crim 2847 - prosecution junior in response to 4 day appeal against conviction. The defendant had been convicted of murder of his baby who had the classic triad of injuries and rib fractures of different ages. The issue on appeal revolved around 'fresh evidence' relating to the age of the rib fractures. The court ultimately concluded that the conviction for murder was unsafe (and substituted a conviction for manslaughter)




R-v-TB (2020) - Salisbury Crown Court. Leading Jane Rowley 3PB. Defendant charged with murder by ‘strangulation’ of woman with whom he had had an affair for many years. Defendant pleaded guilty to manslaughter on basis of lack of intent. Jury acquitted of murder.

R-v-JS (2019) - Southampton Crown Court. Leading Elisabeth Bussey-Jones 3PB. Defendant accepted he had killed a man on the Isle of Wight. Issue was whether his autism was sufficient for a defence of diminished responsibility. Defendant pleaded guilty to murder part way through trial.

R-v-D (2019) - Truro Crown Court. Leading Rupert Taylor. Defendant in 70’s charged with murder of 81 year old partner. Following the obtaining of psychiatric evidence is became clear that the defendant had an undiagnosed and unusual form of dementia (Lewy Body). Prosecution accepted plea to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility following psychiatric reports. Sentence under MHA.

R-v-S (2018) - Truro Crown Court. Leading Emily Cook. Defendant charged with murder of young baby with medical signs of being shaken. Prosecution accepted plea to manslaughter. Defendant sentenced to 5 years.


R-v-SG (2020) - Truro Crown Court. Baby died in bath having been left by defendant for some minutes. Defendant charged with gross negligent manslaughter. Jury hung with regards to manslaughter. Defendant pleaded guilty to child cruelty.

R-v-CS (2020) - Truro Crown Court. Convicted of murder of young man with multiple stab wounds.

R-v-LG (2019) - Truro Crown Court. Convicted of murder of partner by a single stab wound. Issues involved a factual dispute about whether the victim had stabbed himself and, if the defendant had stabbed him, whether she had done so in either self defence or through loss of control.



HSE -v- JB Ltd (2019) - Cardiff Crown Court - prosecution of company following death of a young worker on a building site. Prosecution take difficult decision to offer no evidence in relation to health and safety breaches as part of continuous review of the evidence following submissions by the defence.

R-v-C (2019) - Plymouth Crown Court. Led Sally Daulton. Re-trial following hung jury in 2018. Allegation that mother had deliberately smothered her baby in hospital and given her co-codamol. Issue required complex medical evidence about whether the child’s cessation of breathing had been due to mother’s actions or natural causes. Jury acquitted D.

R-v- V and W (2018) - Plymouth Crown Court. Led Sally Daulton. Both parents prosecuted in relation to life changing injuries to 4 month old baby. Charges included s18 GBH and a joint charge of failing to protect the baby. The presentation of the case required detailed analysis of phone records and timings of various injuries to enable the jury to decide which parent had caused the significant injuries. The three week trial ended in conviction of the mother.

R-v-M and others (Operation Fardel) (2017-8) - Harrow Crown Court - leading Julia Cox. Instructed by CPS South West Complex Casework unit - prosecuting 6 defendants for laundering in the region of £2 million through 'harvested' bank accounts and through the Post Office. The underlying crime was 'phishing fraud': fraudsters got victims to transfer their savings by pretending they were calling from the bank. All 6 defendants pleaded guilty after the case was fully opened to the jury. The sentences imposed ranged from 6 years imprisonment to 12 months suspended. Following contested hearing, confiscation orders in the sum of £1.5 million.

R-v-B and others (2014-5) - Truro Crown Court - leading junior (with Judith Constable) - instructed by the Environment Agency to prosecute 10 defendants for waste and water discharge offences. Some pleaded guilty prior to trial, others pleaded guilty following opening and view.


R-v-TM (2019) - Exeter Crown Court - defendant charged with rape of woman he had met on line. Acquitted after trial.

R-v-P (2015) - Truro Crown Court - leading junior (leading Sarah Vince) in 10 week HMRC fraud trial with over 40,000 pages of evidence. The accountant defendant had submitted returns for clients to HMRC which were false. Convicted after trial.

Other Interests

Running, triathlons, swimming in rivers, gardening and playing the guitar badly.

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Criminal Law Newsletter - November 2019