Francesca Levett

Year of Call: 1997 | Recorder: 2019

Francesca is an experienced criminal practitioner who has developed a significant practice in complex fraud, confiscation and regulatory work over the last twenty-one years, whilst maintaining her expertise in cases involving serious sexual, violence and drugs offences

Our specialist clerks can be contacted by email on clerks@5sah.co.uk or phone on 020 7332 5400. To contact our Chambers Director directly in relation to a specific members’ practice, please email dscothern@5sah.co.uk

Overview

Francesca is a criminal practitioner who has developed a significant practice in complex fraud, conspiracy, confiscation and regulatory work over the last twenty-two years, whilst maintaining her expertise in cases involving serious sexual, violence and drugs offences. Francesca both defends and prosecutes, and also undertakes work on behalf of a number of local authorities in pursuing the more complex regulatory prosecutions.

Professional Panel Appointments

  • Appointed Recorder: September 2019.
  • Grade 3 appointed advocate on the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Unified Prosecution List.
  • Appointed to the rape panel of approved CPS advocates.
  • Appointed to the Specialist lists for Fraud (Grade 3) and POCA (Grade 2).
  • Appointed advocate for the General Dental Council (GDC).

Professional Memberships

  • Criminal Bar Association.
  • Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Association.
  • Women in Criminal Law.

Criminal Defence + View All Specialist Areas

In addition to conducting high profile fraud trials, Francesca is instructed to defend and prosecute throughout London and the South East. She has developed a practice that promotes her ability to identify and address complex legal argument, whilst remaining focussed and robust during witness handling.

Francesca takes an active role in effective case management and encourages client conferences throughout the proceedings to maximise prospects of success. She has gained significant experience in lengthy and multi-handed cases, together with appellate work, having been instructed by leading defence solicitors in relation to referrals from the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Francesca was recently led in a high profile Appeal that sought to extend the parameters of duress to overcome the need for an objective ‘imminent risk’ of death or serious injury for defendants that suffer from battered woman syndrome.

Francesca was instructed to represent the first mate of a vessel that collided with another in the Dover strait, resulting in the death of the other vessel’s captain and a charge of manslaughter. For the first time in a criminal trial, a simulation was generated that reconstructed the incident using the GPS co-ordinates of all vessels within the area, to enable the judge, jury and counsel to experience the accident from the same perspective as the defendant, using specialist equipment in Warsash, Hampshire.

Sexual Offences

Francesca is regularly instructed to defend in cases involving sexual allegations, from rape to historical abuse, and specialises in breach of trust cases involving teachers and family members. The emotive nature of such accusations is dealt with sensitively, but robustly, and Francesca is well versed in dealing with child witnesses, young defendants and those with mental health and learning difficulties. One of Francesca’s most controversial cases involved a 12 year old male defendant who, with one other, was facing serious charges against other children they had held at knifepoint before inciting them to commit sexual acts.  

When defending in cases involving sexual allegations, disclosure is crucially important, and often yields valuable evidence for cross examination.  Francesca maintains a robust and persistent stance on disclosure, to maximise prospects of success.

Cases of Note

RECENT CASES

R v BS and others (Op Surging)

Ongoing case involving conspiracy to conceal the proceeds of crime, arising from evasion of duty on alcohol. Represent BS, allegedly one of the principals of the conspiracy. Trial scheduled for April 2020.

R v RWD and others (Op Amazon) (2019)

Instructed to represent RWD, a solicitor, during confiscation proceedings only, following his conviction for conspiracy to defraud investors and HMRC in a carbon emission reduction certificate fraud in which investments of almost £300million were made for research and development into carbon reduction projects, creating taxable offsets of £107m, that were lost to HMRC. Despite the sizeable sums involved, RWD’s confiscation order was reduced to just over £3m.

R v JF (2019)

Defending a young man accused of conspiracy to rob, involving over twenty incidents and multiple defendants that relied on cell site, mobile phone attribution and CCTV. Successfully challenged during Dismissal proceedings.

R v SD (2018-2019)

Defending lead defendant in a county lines prosecution that ran between Essex, London and Southampton.

R v Parker (2018)

Successful prosecution of a defendant who, at 16, had raped his girlfriend’s young brother, and committed further multiple rapes against the brother and the brother’s friends. The evidence pointed to a deeply manipulative defendant who would ingratiate himself into the lives of his victims’ families, making himself indispensable and seemingly trustworthy, all in a bid to ensure he was left alone with the children. He received an extended sentence of 22 years.

R v Worley (2018)

Successful prosecution of an 83 year old defendant, who had repeatedly raped his young neighbour thirty five years previously, and sexually assaulted another young neighbour. He received a sentence of 12 years, reduced by the trial judge as an act of mercy, given his age.

R v Angel Jackson (2012-2018)

Instructed to advise and then prosecute Angel Jackson for multiple counts of fraud. Procedurally complicated case involving numerous attempts to avoid the trial process claiming a lack of fitness to plead and stand trial, the dismissal of numerous defence counsel and solicitor firms, the intimidation of witnesses and the defendant absconding for several weeks during the trial process. Unanimous convictions on all 32 counts, leading to a seven year sentence and successful confiscation proceedings.

R v N (2016)

Prosecuted a mother accused of fraud and child neglect in which she lied about the apparent ill health of her six children to generate a sum in excess of £1m in benefits that she was not entitled to. The case involved 13 consultants from a number of hospitals who had diagnosed the children with various ailments as a result of lies told by the defendant. The defendant had factitious disorder, in which she lied about symptoms that were mostly subjective, such as headaches, reflux, breathing difficulties, sickness and fatigue. She convinced the children they were unwell. When arrested, her 11 year old daughter was fed through a tube into her stomach, and still wore nappies to school, despite the fact that she was continent and could eat normally. Her 8 year old son was similarly fed, and wore nappies. His reflux was said to be so bad that he required a Nissen fundoplication – an irreversible stomach operation that makes it impossible for him to vomit, which will cause problems if he ingests spoiled food. The defendant had over £40,000 of prescription medication and prescribed food (for gastro fed patients) stockpiled in her garage. Fascinating psychiatric evidence was heard that demonstrated the defendant knew what she was doing was wrong, but that she chose to do it anyway. Convicted and sentenced to 7½ years.

OLDER CASES

GC v R

Led junior for the Appellant in a CCRC referral that seeks to broaden the defence of duress, so that the immediacy of a threat can be considered on a more subjective footing when dealing with a defendant who is suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, a more specifically, the sub-category of battered woman syndrome. R v SH and DL Conspiracy case that seeks to link over 60 substantive offences by reference to cell-site evidence, DNA, fingerprints, ANPR, satellite navigation coordinates and undercover dialogue.

R v JJ (2013)

Defence counsel in a significant fraud and money laundering case at the Central Criminal Court.

R v DK (2013)

Historical sexual abuse by a grandfather against granddaughters.

R v MI & SA (2012-2013)

Conspiracy to convert proceeds of crime, whereby hundreds of cars were stolen to order, then cloned into former insurance write-offs for profit.

OTHER CASES

LBC v Shanahan [2010] EWCA Crim 98

The applicability of more than one change in circumstances and the effect on entitlement in relation to benefit fraudLondon Borough of Croydon v Pinch a Pound (UK) Ltd [2011] 1 WLR 1189Due diligence case relevant to test purchases undertaken by the local authority

R v IN, RH and other

Defending first defendant on a nine-handed mail-dumping fraud that resulted in pleas to reduced charges and a confiscation order representing a fifth of the sum identified as realisable assets.

R v MM, SM, GC, and others

Successful application to stay proceedings in this six handed fraud centring upon fraudulent contracts against the Prudential following persistent non-disclosure on the part of the prosecution

R v A(G) and others

Successful application to quash indictment in this mobile phone ‘carousel’ fraud involving a multi-million pound evasion of VAT following the Bondhouse/Optigen decision.