Joanna Martin KC

Year of call:2005
Expertise: Crime, Regulatory, Family
Joanna Martin QC April2021-65
Appointments:Recorder: 2016 - General Crime, Serious Sex and Private Family Law, Deputy Head of Chambers
Memberships:Criminal Bar Association, Western Circuit, Western Circuit Women's Forum, Member of pro bono group Advocate
Email Barrister's Clerk
See all our barristers


  • Solicitor: 1996
  • Called to the Bar: 2005
  • Took silk: 2018

Practice areas

  • Serious crime
  • Regulatory crime
  • Financial crime (fraud)
  • Complex fact finds in family cases

What others say

‘Jo is superb; very thoughtful, determined and charming as an advocate – one of those in whom juries place their trust. She is always beautifully prepared and brings a lightness of touch to her advocacy which is compelling.’

Legal 500 2024 Leading Silks

‘Joanna works extremely hard and is always completely on top of instructions. She is very friendly and dynamic; she leads any team well. She inspires confidence in others and has an approach which juries always find extremely attractive – there is a real clarity of thought in the way she presents her case.’

Legal 500 2023 Leading Silk

Leading Silk

Legal 500 2022

‘Thorough, hardworking and tactical’

Legal 500 2021 Leading Silks

‘Her incisive eye cuts to the core of the case with ease’

Legal 500 2018 Leading Silks

‘She charms juries with her down-to-earth manner’

Legal 500 2016


Jo qualified as a solicitor in 1996. She worked for the Serious Fraud Office and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), 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 King’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 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 fraud, 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 above all the importance of 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 New Practitioners 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.

Jo is authorised to undertake work in accordance with the Public Access Scheme, which means that members of the public can instruct Jo directly.

Jo is regulated by the Bar Standards Board.

Recent Cases

  • R v B (2020). Leading Jane Rowley 3PB. Defending a man charged with murder by ‘strangulation’ of a woman with whom he had had an affair for many years. High profile prosecution with considerable press interest. Involved analysis of forensic evidence and tactical decisions on defences and plea.
  • R v B (2020). Leading Piers Norsworthy for the defence. Defendant and another charged with murder. Issues at trial included intent, joint enterprise, and whether killing for gain.
  • R v G (2020) – Prosecution: Baby died in a bath having been left by the defendant for some minutes. Defendant charged with gross negligence manslaughter and child cruelty in the alternative.
  • R v S (2020). Leading Emily Cook for the prosecution. First large jury trial under Covid restrictions. Presentation involved considerable amount of CCTV evidence and careful analysis of the  timeline involved.
  • R v D (2019). Leading Rupert Taylor for the defence. Defendant in his 70’s charged with the murder of his 81 year old partner. Following the obtaining of psychiatric evidence it became clear that the defendant had an undiagnosed and unusual form of dementia (Lewy Body). Prosecution accepted a plea to manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility following psychiatric reports.
  • R v V and W (2018). Leading Sally Daulton for the prosecution. Both parents prosecuted in relation to life changing injuries to their 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. There were connected family court proceedings.
  • R-v-S (2018). Leading Emily Cook for the defence. Defendant charged with the murder of a young baby with medical signs of being shaken. Prosecution accepted a plea to manslaughter.
  • R v M and others (Operation Fardel). (2017-2018). Leading Julia Cox. Instructed by CPS South West Complex Casework unit – prosecuting six 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 six defendants pleaded guilty after the case was fully opened to the jury. Following a contested hearing, confiscation orders in the sum of £1.5 million were made.

Reported Cases

  • 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, 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.
  • R-v-Burridge [2010] EWCA Crim 2847 – prosecution junior in response to 4 day appeal against conviction. The defendant had been convicted of the 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.
Devon Chambers Montage 2024 rev

Would you like to book a barrister?

Do you have any questions or would like to check the availability of a particular barrister? Then get in contact with one of our friendly clerks.