Mary Prior QC has a reputation for being a powerful, persuasive advocate who gets results. She has especial expertise in representing or questioning those who would be described as vulnerable. That includes people on the autistic spectrum, those with ADHD, learning difficulties, addicts, sex workers, those in care or who grew up in care. She is regularly instructed to prosecute and defend cases where the key witnesses are vulnerable either because they are children or because they have special needs of some description. Mary teaches advocates how to question vulnerable witnesses and defendants. Mary prepares her cases thoroughly and ensures that they are presented in a jury friendly way to provide the best prospects of success. She pays attention to detail and takes great care to ensure that all relevant material is considered and utilised. When prosecuting she gains the trust of the families of the deceased and works well as part of a team of officers and lawyers. When defending she regulalry visits her clients to ensure that they develop a relationship of trust with her and that they are able to understand the case against them.
Mary is fearless when cross-examining those who require a robust approach. She ensures that the best points in a case are not lost by focus on irrelevancies.
She prosecutes and defends in equal measure in the best traditions of the independent Bar. She provides early and thorough written advice and strategy as to the best approach. She is often commended by Judges for her handling of cases and of witnesses.
Mary runs the RASSO training programme for the Midland Circuit and produces a newsletter each quarter with updates and developments in the law. She has especial expertise in serious sexual offences. She regulalry lectures on advocacy and other aspects of law.
She is often instructed in complex, historic sexual offences which involve the control of people and sexual exploitation. She is also often instructed in serious sexual offences against those in professions which involve contact with children and young adults.
- Child sexual exploitation.
- Child sexual abuse.
- Large scale conspiracies to import drugs.
Appointments & Memberships
- Midland circuit
- RASSO Trainer Midland Circuit
- Vulnerable Witness trainer/facilitator
- Women in Criminal Law - Joint Chair Midlands Branch
R v Jamal Jeng and others – Luton Crown Court 2019
Drugs, group attack, intent.
Jeng, a 21 years old young man, who had ADHD and who had grown up in the care system, was one of five defendants who broke into the home of the deceased at 0200. All five men concealed their identity and once the door was kicked open the deceased was viciously assaulted by at least three of the group. The defendants could be seen entering the flat on CCTV. This was a cut throat defence. It involved issues of identification, telephone evidence, cell site analysis, challenges to forensic evidence of blood stains and footprints. Jeng was alleged to have made a full confession to a cell mate which was robustly challenged. The issue in his case was intent. He was acquitted of murder and convicted of manslaughter. Three of the others were convicted of murder and received life sentences with a minimum term of 26 years.
R v Sero Hemmings – Leicester Crown Court 2018
Drugs, road rage, alibi.
SH and his brother were indicted with the murder of AJ. This was a case with a background of drug dealing and road rage. SH was the driver. The issue was alibi. The case relied on careful examination of CCTV, telephone records, cell site analysis, blood staining and DNA profiling on the weapon.
R v Ashwin Daudia – Leicester Crown Court 2018
Domestic violence, murder, concealement of the body.
AD had learning difficulties. He became enraged as his wife had determined to leave him and sell the house. He waited until she returned from work and then killed her by banging her head repeatedly on the bannister whilst strangling her with her own scarf. He placed her body in a suitcase which remained in the house when his teenage son returned from college. He took the suitcase and put it by a neighbour's bin to be collected by the bin men the following morning. The body was discovered. In interview he denied causing the death. He eventually admitted the assualt but said he acted in self defence. Previous history of violence. Requirement to cross-examine the two sons of the family as to mother's violence and the defendant's account that both sons had been violent to him. Convicted.
R v Pendery and Crane – Leicester Crown Court 2018
Alcoholics, joint attack, revenge.
CP was an alcoholic with mental health difficulties who went with CC to the home of another alcoholic. The deceased was assaulted over a period of hours and sustained injuries from which he eventually died. The issues were whether the deceased died as a result of this incident or from drink related injuries. The defendants admitted presence. Each blamed the other for the injuries. Crane was convicted of murder and Pendery of Manslaughter.
R v ML Nottingham Crown Court 2018
Youth, ADHD and autism, attempted murder, robbery, use of knife.
ML had autism and ADHD. The autism had been undiagnosed. He was part of a group of children who determined to rob the complainant of his mobile telephone in the early hours of the morning. All of the other children indicated that ML produced a knife and proceeded to stab the complainant causing life threatening injuries. The group fled to ML's home where the complainant's telephone was found in the toilet by the police. ML denied that he was responsible. Very careful cross-examination of vulnerable children in care revealed the weaknesses in the identification of ML as the person with the knife. Acquitted of attempted murder. Convicted of robbery.
R v TR Birmingham Crown Court 2018
Youth, ADHD, self-defence, drugs.
TR had ADHD and complex difficulties. He was accused of murder and attempted murder of two cousins who had arranged with TR to meet them in order for them to rob TR of the drugs that they had ordered. One of the two produced a stun gun. TR produced a home made knife that he had concealed and stabbed both youths numerous times causing life threatening injuries to one and death to the other. Defence was self defence. TR was able to give evidence with the assistance of an intermediary. He was acquitted of murder and convicted of section 18 on the second youth.
R v Jeremy Clarke – Leicester Crown Court 2019
Domestic violence – alcohol- hypoglycaemia.
Clarke murdered his partner by cutting her throat in the couple's bathroom. There were at least two cuts. Initially Clarke confessed to the crime to the police but then determined to defend the matter at trial by indicating that he had suffered a hypoglycaemic attack. The presentation of the evidence to the jury was almost entirely on screen with a visual depiction of his movements as shown on CCTV and by the forensic and telephone evidence. The defendant confessed to his daughter who was called as a prosecution witness and to his cousin. The case involved complex medical evidence. The defendant was convicted of murder.
R v Craig Keogh Birmingham Crown Court 2018
Burglary, robbery, rape, murder by suffocation.
Keogh (aged 26) broke into the home of an elderly frail pensioner. He stole her jewellery, ripping it from her body. He conducted an untidy search of the house taking money. He raped her vaginally and anally and then suffocated her with a pillow. He admitted sexual activity but said that she had paid for it. He denied causing her death arguing natural causes or that her death was at the hands of another. The case involved a new complex forensic method which revealed finger marks on her pillow at the edges. The medical evidence was challenged. The case involved CCTV, forensic evidence of rape and the cross-examination of a number of key witnesses who were friends of the defendant. He was convicted.
R v James Atherley Birmimgham Crown Court 2018
Revenge, drugs, intimidation of witnesses, self-defence.
Atherley was convicted of the murder of a young man which occurred on the balcony of a flat where a party was being held. No-one saw the murder, but several party goers saw the deceased run bleeding from the balcony followed by the defendant who was shouting that that was what “grasses” or “snitches” got. The deceased had previously made a statement in a stabbing involving a friend of Atherley. Atherley made good his escape and made significant attempts to prevent others from testifying. At trial he raised self defence indicating that the deceased in a cocaine fuelled rage had come at him with a knife. Issues, self defence, pathology, forensic evidence, impact of alcohol on memory.
Manslaugter by gross negligence
R v Smith and Dunn Birmingham Crown Court 2018
Drowning of child due to lack of supervision.
S was the step father of a six years old boy. D was the mother. Both had learning disabilities. They took the boy to Bosworth Water Park and left him unsupervised for over 20 minutes at a lake. The boy could not swim and had no water aids. He was discovered by other children. His sister saw his body being recovered. Complicated prosecution with many child witnesses and a requirement to piece together evidence as to the boys whereabouts to show the absence of supervision. Defence was a momentary lack of supervision. Bad character evidence of previous episodes where there had been a lack of supervision admitted. In the middle of the trial S admitted guilt and D admitted cruelty by neglect.
R v Carly Jacques Leicester Crown Court
CJ following a difficult birth and problems in her relationship with her husband developed mental health difficulties and smothered her baby. She cut her own wrists and neck but was saved. She had been smoking cannabis. Indicted with murder. Admitted infanticide.
R v Pinney Leicester Crown Court 2018
Grooming, obtaining indecent images, sexual assaults.
Pinney was a young man with Kleinfelter's Syndrome, learning disabilities and complex physical and emotional needs. He was indicted with offences of grooming, sexual assaults and incitement against 26 children. He was said to be a prolific offender who pretended to be a female teenager using several different identities to target vulnerable males. He persuaded them to be in an online relationship with him and got them to send him indecent images. He denied that he committed the offences and indicated that his computer and electrical devices had been hacked. The case involved complex computer evidence and the examination of thousands of pages of messages and social media communications to try to establish who the user of the devices was. He was able to give evidence via an intermediary who was present throughout the trial.
R v A 2018 Leicester Crown Court 2018
Sexual assaults on a patient by a GP. Denial.
This GP was accused of sexual assaults on a vulnerable patient within weeks of the death of the patient's baby. He was said to have given the patient oral sex, masturbated him and inserted a finger in his anus. There was forensic evidence of DNA from the GP on the patient's penis. The patient made an immediate complaint. The GP denied in interview that he had a sexual interest in men. Bad character evidence was admitted that the GP used male dating websites and had engaged in sexual activity with males in his waiting room. The GP denied the activity.
R v Khan Leicester Crown Court 2016
Gang rape, child sexual exploitation.
Khan was the lead defendant of a group of Asian males accused of grooming a teenage girl with learning disabilities giving ger drugs, raping her and then providing her to others for his gain. When she complained he attempted to intimidate her into withdrawing her complaint. He was also accused of rape and serious assaults on a partner and sexual abuse of a family member. The main complainant was extremely vulnerable and cross-examination of her was limited to two hours. It was sufficiently effective for Khan to be acquitted of all bar one count of rape. A public commendation was given by the Judge for the manner of cross-examination. He admitted possession of a stun gun.
R v Anwar Sheikh Manchester Crown Court 2013
Grooming -Rochdale- Child sexual exploitation
AS was one of a number of men acccused of sexual abuse of a teenage girl who said that he plied her with drink and sexually abused her in his van and in a flat. Defendant denied the offences and said that the girl had not been with him at all. The girl had given evidence before in related trials and was well used to the types of questions that would be asked. A different approach revealed inconsistencies in her account. Acquitted
Child abuse in Nottinghamshire Care Homes 1970-2000
Child sexual exploitation
Prosecution of a series of trials of social workers, teachers and workers at Children's Homes in Nottinghamshire. Large scale, complex investigation. All the complainants were extremely vulnerable both as children and then as adults coming forward. Cases ranged from rape to cruelty.
R v Anwar Ismail Leicester Crown Court 2017
Rape by carer in children's home. Victim deceased, hearsay application.
Child sexual exploitation.
Ismail befriended an extremely vulnerable young teenage boy. He sexaully abused him and raped him. He groomed him sufficiently for him to escape from the children's home after Ismail was dismissed. Ismail eventually set the boy up in a flat pretending the boy was his younger brother. The aim was to provide the boy for sexual activity with other adults. The boy complained to a care worker and made an ABE. Ismail then suggested he had cancer to try to get the boy back. The boy took his own life before trial. Evidence admitted udner hearsay provisions. Defence argued that because of his difficulties the evidence was unreliable. At trial matters were denied on the basis that they had not happened and that the boy had a crush on him – he was just trying to help. Convicted.
R v Ardavicius Leicester Crown Court 2013
Rape of sex worker, attmpted murder - strangulation.
A picked up the complainant who was a sex worker. She was pregnant. He drove her to an isolated spot and raped her. When she tried to leave by running away he grabbed her, tackled her to the floor and tried to strangle her. They were disturbed by a milkman on his way out of the depot. A made good his escape but was traced by CCTV. His defence was that the sex worker had tried to rob him after consensual activity and that he was simply trying to get his belongings back. A case of myths and stereotypes. Medical evidence confirmed strangulation. Convicted. I received a police commendation from the Chief Constable for my work on this case.
Other posts and committees
- On the working committee for the questioning of inebriated witnesses/complainants
- Legal advisor to Healed with Compassion
- Co-organiser of the Leicester Schools Mock Trials Competition
- Bar Council Social Mobility Advocate 2019