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Catherine Donnelly

Call: 1997


Recommended in Crime (London Bar)

Chambers UK Bar Guide [2020]

“She has a track record of the most serious sex cases.”

Legal 500 [2020]

“A good advocate: a great tactician, charming and hardworking.”

“A charming strategist.”

Legal 500 [2019]

“A top-rate advocate with a very appealing jury manner and robustness during legal argument.”

“An oasis of calm in a trial.”

Legal 500 [2017]

“An impressive advocate with extensive and detailed knowledge of criminal law.”

“She is an expert in the field of child sexual abuse.”

Legal 500 [2016]


Grade 4 CPS Panel Advocate (London and South East) and CPS Rape Specialist

CPS Specialist Panels 2018-22 list for Serious Crime Group - Level 4.




Catherine Donnelly is regularly instructed in complex, paper heavy criminal cases. In particular homicides, large scale conspiracies involving guns/dishonesty offences, serious sexual offending, and drug importations. She has extensive experience of dealing with complex expert evidence including medical evidence, psychiatric evidence, ANPR and cell site analysis.

She is counsel to Operation Pallial 2013 – 2018. Operation Pallial was formed to investigate allegations of child sex abuse in North Wales Children’s homes in 2012 by the Prime Minister, Teresa May. It is one of the largest investigations into child abuse in the UK to date. A number of cases are ongoing. She regularly lectures to those involved in the prosecution of such cases.


Recent Cases of Interest

R v Brazier [2019] Murder. Counsel for the prosecution.

R v Thomas [2020] EWCA 117 Prosecution. New guideline case on intermediaries.
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R v Allen [2020] Prosecution. Serial paedophile who abused boys in North Wales cares homes over 50 years.
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R v B [2020] Leading counsel prosecution. Complex child cruelty where allegation of FII (Munchausen by proxy).

R v Dyckhoff [2019] Leading Junior. Defence. Kidnap, blackmail and torture.

R v Brazil [2019] Prosecution. Attempted murder. 

R v John Allen 2 [2019] Prosecution. Large scale, complex child abuse case.

R v Bills [2018] Prosecution. Death by dangerous driving. Subject to successful ULS.
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R v Stridgeon [2018]. Prosecution.
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R v Wilson [2018] Prosecution. Successful prosecution of Detective Sargent from Metropolitan police child protection unit for possession of child pornography.

R v Robert Hughes [2018] Prosecution. Successful prosecution of multi complainant historic sex offences by teacher who worked in several schools.
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R v Molloy [2018] Attempted murder. Prosecution. Ongoing.
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R v Brazier [2018] Prosecution. Murder. Ongoing.
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R v Thornton and Eldridge [2018] Prosecution. Dangerous dog case. Ongoing.
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R v S [2017] Defence. Serious sexual offences where the complainant is 3 years old.

Operation Almond [2017] Ongoing. Instructed to advise precharge. Operation Almond is a Dyfed-Powys Police investigation into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of children at Rhydygors School in Carmarthen, during the years spanning 1976 to 1986. She is also instructed to advise upon abuse at a care home, namely Cartref-y-Gelli in Carmarthen between 1986 and 1990.

R v J [2017] Murder. Old Bailey. Defence.

R v A [2017] Defence. Serious sexual offences where the complainant is 3 years old.

R v S and others [2017] Defence. Large multi handed Conspiracy to rob.

R v B [2017] Defence Attempted Murder. Widely publicised attack with machete. Allegation of attempted decapitation.

R v F [2016] Defence Rape. Crown offered no evidence after cross examination of complainant.

R v Griffiths. [2016] Operation Pallial.
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R v Ahdan. [2016] Defence.  ‘Unknown TV’ case. Crown offered no evidence pre trial as a result of defence submissions.

R v Gordon Anglesea [2015] Operation Pallial.
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Operation Pallial [2013 – 2017] Prosecution. Junior counsel. She has been instructed to advise and review cases, as well as to prosecute at trial with leading Counsel and as Junior alone.

R v Cooke and others [2015] Seven handed, three month trial. Wrexham paedophile ring that operated in North Wales in the 1980s. Five men convicted.
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R v Pike [2015] Defence. Historic section 18 GBH on a 7 year old with a significant number of medical and learning difficulties. Acquitted.

R v John Allen [2014] Two month trial. 20 complainants gave evidence against John Allen who owned the Bryn Alyn Community care homes in North Wales. John Allen was convicted on 39 counts of serious sexual offences and is now serving a life sentence.
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R v Green and others [2014] Maidstone Crown Court. Prosecution. Multi handed Attempted murder.
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R v AH, R v A, R v A [2014] Defence. Series of drug importation supply cases concerning supply of class a drugs in south east England by the Woolwich Boys gang. Acquitted.

R v Selves [2014] Defence. Multi complainant sexual abuse allegations. Acquitted.



R v Osipov and others [2014] Defence. Multi handed two month section 18 trial. Only defendant to be acquitted of section 18.

R v Calcutt [2013] Prosecution. Father convicted of serious injury to 25 days old son.
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R v Chedd [2013] Prosecution. Widely reported death by careless driving.
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R v Leek and others [2012] Lewes Crown Court. 8 handed nationally reported manslaughter. Death of home-owner in course of burglary and perverting the course of justice. Led junior.
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R v White [2012]  Murder. Defence
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R v Wallace and others [2011] Chelmsford Crown Court. Aylesbury young offenders’ institute riot. Nationally reported.
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R v P [2008] Junior for the defence in attempted murder, where mother tried to shoot her 15 year old son.
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R v Parker and Parker [2013] Defence. Defendants were first twins to be placed on CEOPs most wanted list. Historic sexual abuse dating back to 1970s.
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R v Jackson and another [2013] Defence. Grave historic sexual offences and allegations of incest dating back to 1970′s.

R v X and X [2013] Parents accused of the grave sexual abuse of their young children and the recording of said abuse. Children too young to be called to give evidence at trial. Defence.

R v M and M [2013] Prosecution. Serial rape.

R v M [2012] Woolwich Crown Court. Prosecution. Serial Rape

R v Sowden [2012] Maidstone Crown Court. Prosecution. False rape allegations against two men.
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R v Millen, King and Parker [2011] Maidstone Crown Court. Nationally reported gang rape. Teenage victim raped by three men at a party. Prosecution.
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R v C [2010] Attempted anal rape of 86 year old woman. Defence.

R v D [2010] 86 year old charged with historic sexual offences. Issues re: Alzheimers / Dementia. Prosecution.



R v Tullett and others [2011] Guildford Crown Court. Blackmail involving multi-billion pound company. Defence. Led Junior.

R v Watson [2010] Fraud. Defence.

R v Davis, R v Powell [2010] Large scale drug conspiracies. Defence.

R v Stanislovatis [2010] First defendant in large scale international drug importation. Defence.

R v Granger [2010] Baby shaking, Section 18 and child cruelty to 4 week-old baby. Defence.

R v Rider [2009] 9 complainant child sex case. Defence.

R v O’Carroll and another [2009] Central Criminal Court. Child prostitution. Defence.

R v Diallo and others [2009] Central Criminal Court. 9 handed conspiracy to cause GBH, attempted murder, kidnap and violent disorder. Defence.

R v Aboulkadir and others [2008] Junior counsel for the Crown in multi-handed multi complainant paedophile ring.

R v Eccles and another [2008] Junior counsel for the defence in a substantial class A drugs importation.

R v Ali Suleiman Mohammed and others [2008] Defence counsel in 18 handed case involving allegations of attempted murder and violent disorder.

R v R and S [2008] Junior counsel for the defence in multi complainant sexual abuse case spanning 20 years. Blind defendant – involved allegations of inter familial abuse covering two families. Brother forced to rape sister; step mother and mother made to sexually abuse children.

R v Smith and others [2007] Junior counsel for the defence in complex car ringing case. Involved the theft of plant and other vehicles by a sophisticated and professional criminal gang.

R v Cole [2007] Serial armed robber described by the Times as the worst bank robber in Britain. Defence.

R v Wenham and others [2006] Represented first defendant in two month Conspiracy to pervert the course of justice / harassment case as Junior alone There were alleged to be 70 offences involved. Other defendants were represented by two counsel.

Reported Cases

Attorney General’s Reference (R. v Soare) [2018] EWCA Crim 465

R v Aboulkadir and others [2009] EWCA Crim 956 (20 May 2009)

R v Stannard and others [2008] EWCA 2789 – authority on imposition of IPP sentences.

R v Donald Smith [2007] EWCA 941

R v Pile and Rossiter [2006] 1 Cr App R (S) 761. Race murder sentencing guideline.

R v Stromsoy [2005] All ER 08 EWCA Crim 834

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