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Simon Spence QC

Simon Spence QC

Call: 1985     Silk: 2009

T: 0207 520 6000    E: chambers@18rlc.co.uk

Simon Spence QC undertakes an even mix of prosecuting and defending work across Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk and London. Before taking silk, he worked regularly as a leading junior and often led in high-profile cases. In 2008 he was the Prosecution junior in the successful prosecution of Steve Wright, the man accused of murdering five Ipswich women.

HomicideSexual Offences

Simon has prosecuted and defended numerous murder and non-fatal violent offences in East Anglia for many years, as a junior and in silk. These cases include a number of very high profile and complex cases which have attracted national and international media attention.

  • R v S, S, K and P (2020)
    Prosecuted a four handed drugs related murder in which a drug dealer said to be using a customer’s flat was stabbed. Two were convicted of murder and two of manslaughter
  • R v A and Q (2019) – Prosecuted a two handed murder in which Q drove a car into the victim enabling A to get out of the car and stab him. Although the incident was captured on CCTV, a background of threats from the victim towards A’s family made this a difficult case to prosecute. A convicted of murder and Q of manslaughter
  • R v P (2019) – Defended in a murder arising out of alleged group rivalry in a case which has aroused a large amount of local feeling and has attracted media attention. The client was convicted of Manslaughter whereas all the other defendants bar one were convicted of murder.
  • R v H (2018) – Prosecuted a defendant who stabbed to death a female debt collector. The case involved complex forensic evidence and attracted national media attention.
  • R v K, M and H (2018) – Prosecuted the murder of a vulnerable homeless man in a car park involving the analysis of a sequence of events leading up to the fatal assault and detailed forensic evidence linking all three defendants to the fatal assault
  • R v C (2018) – Defended in a murder in which the evidence revolved around careful examination of very poor quality CCTV footage and careful cross-examination of the CCTV expert
  • R v D (2017) – Successfully defended client charged with murder and attempted murder over an incident arising out of a family dispute on a travellers’ site. A case involving the application of the ‘householder’s defence’
  • R v J and 5 others (2017)
    Took over the leading brief for the prosecution halfway through the case following the indisposition of previous counsel. The case concerned possession of a prohibited weapon and a conspiracy to murder arising out of street gang rivalry in east London. A highly complex case to pick up and get to grips with whilst the case was ongoing.
  • R v F (2016) Defended a 15 year old boy charged with the double murder of two strangers in Colchester. The case attracted national publicity and led to Simon being interviewed for three TV documentaries. Press Link: BBC
  • R v R (2016) – Prosecuted a double murder in which the defendant was charged with murdering his mother and her friend in the mother’s home. Sought to blame an intruder. Difficult and complex scientific evidence to present to the jury.
  • R v Y and others (2012) Prosecuted a 4 handed murder trial which arose out of a drugs ‘turf war’ between 2 London drugs gangs targeting Norwich as a place for potential supply: an evidentially complex case during which two defendants pleaded guilty and one was convicted.
  • R v H (2003, 2011) Prosecution junior in murder of an old lady in her own home.  The evidence rested on contested fibre evidence and the case was referred to the Court of Appeal by the CCRC: Conviction upheld. Hall later admitted his guilt. Press Link: The Guardian
  • R v W  (2008)Prosecution junior in case of serial killer of 5 women in Ipswich in 2006, a case which attracted global coverage. Press Link: BBC
  • R v N (2006) Prosecution junior in murder of defendant’s girlfriend. No forensic evidence and very difficult circumstantial evidence to present but defendant convicted. Press Link: Daily Mail
  • R v T (1997) Defended Squadron Leader charged with murdering his wife. Press Link: Independent 

Sensitive and difficult sexual offences were the mainstay of Simon’s practice throughout his career as a junior at the Bar, with a particular emphasis on child and vulnerable witnesses. This strand of his work has continued in silk. Significant cases include:

  • R v M (2019) – Defended an ex-law lecturer charged with historic rapes and sexual offences against his own daughter and two of her friends. Very difficult bad character issues concerning previous convictions and the contents of a mobile phone recovered and issues concerning the legality or otherwise of his extradition from Romania
  • R v P and others (2018) – Prosecuted a 10 defendant, 7 victim child sex ring in Birmingham with several members of the same family, including one who was both a defendant and a complainant. The trial lasted nearly 2 months and resulted in guilty verdicts leading to sentences which cumulatively exceeded 100 years. The Judge described it as the worst case of child exploitation he had seen in over 40 years at the Bar and on the Bench.
  • R v A (2015) – Defended a retired school teacher charged with a series of historic indecent assaults on a male pupil who became an investigative journalist. He was acquitted of all bar one of the counts on the Indictment. A subsequent A-G’s reference was abandoned pre-hearing. The case involved media attention due to references in the evidence to the founder of Paedophile Information Exchange
  • R v R (2013) Defended historic rape case that collapsed following late disclosure of diaries by prosecution.
  • R v A & A (2005) Rape of student nurse involving abuse arguments relating to LPP and intercepted prison documents.  Press Link: Ipswich Star


Regulatory & Professional Discipline

Health & Safety

Since taking silk, he has experience in HSE, VOSA and Trading Standards cases, all of them successfully defended.

  • R v G (2017) – Successfully defended an accountant who was the company secretary of a business. He and the directors were charged with two counts of Conspiracy to Defraud relating to ‘mis-selling’. A highly complex factual case involving evidence from multiple customers and other members of staff of the business
  • R v B (2015) A Trading Standards case which collapsed before a 2 day abuse of process argument was due to take place concerning charging decisions.
  • R v AK (2013) A Trading Standards prosecution that collapsed on a submission of no case concerning the misuse of RRPs and ‘was’ prices.
  • R v B (2011) A HSE prosecution of a landlord in which a fire broke out and a tenant was badly burnt.
  • R v AS (2011) A VOSA prosecution of a haulage company and its directors.

Inquiries & Appellate Work


Simon has extensive experience of appellate work in all areas, including two appearances in the House of Lords and responding to a CCRC reference in a murder case 5 years after the original conviction.

  • R v S (2015) An appeal against conviction in a murder case considering the hearsay provisions as between two defendants in a ‘cut-throat’ case.
  • R v S (2014) A murder appeal against conviction considering the strength of circumstantial evidence.
  • R v R (2014) An appeal against conviction before the Lord Chief Justice of a high profile murder conviction involving the calling of fresh evidence. The original trial lasted for 5 months and the appeal brief was returned to Simon overnight. The Lord Chief Justice observed that the appeal had been conducted with ‘exemplary skill’.
  • R v H (2009) CCRC reference involving disputed fibre evidence in a murder case with 4 forensic scientists giving evidence and being cross-examined. In a 76 page judgement the court described the case as ‘uniquely complex’.
  • R v M (1995-1996) Provocation in murder (HL decision subsequently overturned).
  • R v G (1992) Duress as a defence to attempted murder.

Simon has sat as a Legal Assessor for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons on a number of cases.

Publications, Lectures and Training


2012 Howard League for Penal Reform

2011 Policing Conference for Liberty


  • Ranked Tier 1 in the Legal 500 2021“His friendly demeanour is utterly disarming and allows him to get the best out of witnesses whether prosecuting or defending.”
  • “A fabulous jury advocate and outstanding lawyer.” and “He is very bright and he is not fazed by anything.” Chambers UK 2021
  • Ranked Tier 1 in the Legal 500 2020“A very strong advocate with great attention to detail.”
  • “A very strong practitioner.” Chambers UK 2020
  • “Confident and assertive in court”.  Legal 500 UK 2017
  • “First-class barrister with an exemplary jury manner” Chambers UK 2013
  • An ideal choice of counsel where a “very charming” barrister with fluent oral skills is required. Murder, violence and sexual offences are prominent in his practice.”  Chambers UK 2012-13


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Criminal Bar Association

South Eastern Circuit – Northern Circuit

Howard League for Penal Reform

Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts

Other Tenancies

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Door Tenant, Dere Street Chambers, York


Professional Appointments

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Chairman of the East Anglian Bar Mess 2010-present

Legal Assessor for the Disciplinary Committee of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons 2014-present


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Leading Silk in the Legal 500 and Chambers UK Bar directories (see Recommendations)