John Keal

Year of Call: 2004

John is an experienced criminal barrister, with a strong practice in the most serious types of criminal cases. John also specialises in white-collar crime. John’s ability is most apparent in the more complex cases. He demonstrates his ability to see the key issues and information in document-heavy cases and those involving complicated legal issues.

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Overview

Combining meticulous preparation with his abilities as an advocate, John has developed a strong practice in the most serious types of criminal cases. With a keen eye for detail, John’s approach is best characterised by an ability to adapt according to the needs of each specific case.

Professional Panel Appointments

  • Level 3 CPS Prosecutor
  • Level 3 CPS Prosecutor – Fraud list

Business Crime

John is a grade 3 prosecutor on the CPS Fraud Advocate Panel.

An understanding of the intricacies involved in complex fraud (including MTIC fraud, VAT and Excise Fraud) had led to John being instructed in high-value fraud cases both for the prosecution and defence. John’s ability to master the factual details of document-heavy cases is complemented by his fluency in the relevant law.

John is acutely aware of the need for the early involvement of counsel in these types of cases, as well as the capacity to work as part of a team.

Crime

John acts for both the prosecution and defence in criminal cases and is also a grade 3 prosecutor on the CPS Advocate Panel.

John has been instructed in the most serious types of cases, including murder, rape, large-scale drug importations and serious gang crime. John also specialises in white-collar crime (please see the Business Crime section for more details).

John’s ability is most apparent in the more complex cases. Equally comfortable in document-heavy cases and those involving complicated legal issues, John prides himself on the service he provides not just in the courtroom but also in case preparation.

Cases of Note

Victor Shearer and Christopher Azzopardi - Maidstone Crown Court

Edmund Burge and John Keal have successfully prosecuted two businessmen and an employee for their roles in a £7m tax fraud. On 21st July 2016 Victor Shearer and Christopher Azzopardi were both unanimously convicted at Maidstone Crown Court of three counts of Conspiracy to Cheat the Public Revenue, after a trial that lasted six weeks. Shearer was also convicted of laundering his £1.2m share of the proceeds of the frauds. A third defendant, Aquil Ahmed, had pleaded guilty to his role in the fraud on the first day of the trial. Ahmed, an accountant, operated a series of companies that offered a complete or ‘umbrella’ pay-roll service to his clients, who were mostly labour supply companies or recruitment agencies. Azzopardi was Ahmed’s assistant. Together they operated a sophisticated web of UK-registered companies and bank accounts through which they invoiced their clients for their workers wages, income taxes and VAT, but failed to pay those taxes over to HMRC as required. Between 2010 and 2012 Ahmed’s pay-roll companies fraudulently witheld £7m in PAYE, National Insurance contributions, Construction Industry Scheme deductions and VAT. That money was laundered through a series of companies set up for the purpose in Gibraltar and Belize, and from there was transferred to bank accounts held in Jersey, Guernsey, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, USA, South Africa, Dubai and Chile. Shearer was the sole director of the City-based company Leaner Logistics, supplying temporary and casual labour to the construction industry and which turned over £10m p/a. He lent his company to the fraud by acting as a client of Ahmed’s pay-roll service, and in return received a £1.2 million share of the unpaid taxes over its two-year operation. The rest of the proceeds were shared between Mr Ahmed, his business partner, and the directors of his other client companies who had lent themselves to the fraud. The scale and complexity of the case meant that it took HMRC nearly two years to investigate. It involved companies and bank accounts across the world, and generated over 30,000 pages of served evidence. After five weeks of evidence the jury took 3 days unanimously to convict both Shearer and Azzopardi on all charges. Sentencing for all three defendants will take place on 5th August 2016.

R v Vella and Hummerstone (Crown Court)

Led junior in this prosecution for murder.

R v Akinluyi and others – Operation Culgao (Crown Court)

Led junior in the prosecution of a multi-million pound conspiracy to import drugs, arising out of a lengthy investigation by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. John took specific responsibility for the analysis and presentation at trial of the complex telephone and banking evidence.

R v Lewinson and Woodford (Crown Court and Court of Appeal)

Junior alone in this prosecution under section 45 of the Serious Crime Act 2007. The defendants were the first ever to be convicted after trial for importing an adulterant used in the supply of heroin. Appeal against sentence to be heard in June 2013.

R v Ogilvie (Crown Court)

Led junior in this prosecution for attempted murder. John took specific responsibility for the detailed analysis of numerous Significant Witness Interviews, as well as crucial telephone evidence.

R v Kabanda (Crown Court)

Junior alone defending a dentist charged with fraud. Factually and legally complex, the case ended with the client’s acquittal.

R v Reis (Crown Court)

Junior alone defending a client charged with Violent Disorder and Burglary, arising out of the widespread public disorder in the summer of 2011. Successful submission of no case to answer at the close of the prosecution case.

R v Roberts (Neil Daniel) [2011] EWCA Crim 2974; (2012) 176 J.P. 33

Junior alone representing the Crown in this appeal relating to the admissibility of confession evidence. John was described by Lord Justice Goldring as showing “conspicuous ability” in his written and oral submissions.

Operation Tangelo II (Crown Court)

Member of the disclosure team devising strategy and reviewing material in relation to a multi-million pound Excise and VAT fraud.

R v Stewart (Crown Court)

Junior alone in the prosecution of historic sex offences committed by a pastoral assistant. This case involved complex legal issues relating both to bad character and hearsay.

R v Franklin and Franklin (Crown Court)

Junior alone in the prosecution for a fraud against Children in Need by the directors of a “Super Car” company.

R v Edwards (Crown Court)

Junior alone in the prosecution of a lengthy and high-value fraud by a company accountant.

R v Blazszcyk and others (Crown Court)

Junior alone defending in this multi-handed prosecution of a high-value excise fraud.

R v Hagi-Daib & others (Crown Court and Court of Appeal)

Led junior in this multi-handed (18 defendants) prosecution arising out of gang violence on the streets of Woolwich.

R v Uyiekpen & others

Led junior in this multi-handed prosecution arising out of gang violence on the streets of Woolwich.

R v Mehmet and others

Led junior in this multi-handed prosecution for kidnapping.

R v McDonald

Led junior in this prosecution for historic child sex offences, involving four complainants.