Sarah Gaunt, is an experienced criminal practitioner specialising in cybercrime, international justice and serious organised crime and complex criminal cases. She has been recently appointed as a Deputy District Judge (DDJ) sitting in civil and has sat as a Legally Qualified Chair in police disciplinary proceedings and been heavily involved in the Undercover Policing Inquiry since 2019. Known for her thorough preparation, excellent and accessible client/witness care and eloquent but robust advocacy, she has been graded 4 (highest grade) since 2012 on the general and specialist Serious Economic and Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID)/ Rape and Serious Sexual offences prosecution lists.
She regularly deals with the country’s most complex and paper heavy cybercrime and international justice and serious organised crime cases, encompassing large scale international fraud and money laundering, homicide, and serious sexual offences. Recent cases include an estimated 50,000 complainant/£9 million loss multi-defendant cyber conspiracy conducted via a serious of fraudulent websites enhanced by vishing techniques, youth murder and a multi-defendant murder with a suspected serious organised crime background.
Sarah has recently spoken in Kenya and Tanzania as part of the Bar Council UK legal symposia, speaking on cryptocurrency/Blockchain and Internal Financial Regulation (November 2022). Sarah is a member of the Bar Council’s Representation and Bar Conference Working Group Committees. Domestically, she has spoken in multiple seminars/webinars countrywide on Cyber related topics. Her audiences have included specialist prosecution departments, defence solicitors and other professional persons. In 2019, she completed the London School of Economics certified course in Cryptocurrency and disruption. A vulnerable witness and advocacy trainer at Lincolns Inn she contributed to the Vulnerable Witness Advocacy course taught in the Caribbean. Sarah is committed to equality and diversity, providing input to various forums and to research in this area.
In 2015 Sarah became a CEDR qualified mediator.
Incredibly industrious and deadly in cross-examination."
- Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate
- Financial Crime & Fraud
- Serious Sexual Offences
- Professional Misconduct & Disciplinary Tribunals
Appointments & Memberships
- Criminal Bar Association
- International Bar Association
- Midland Circuit
2021-2022 MASON & Others (Operation Vitelius)
Leading counsel – Prosecution of a 5-defendant cybercrime fraud conspiracy with an estimated 50,000 complainants and anticipated onward fraudulent losses of circa £9 million. An “industrial scale” fraud was conducted via the setting up of a series of fraudulent companies and websites over 2 years resulting in the widescale theft of third-party financial and personal data enhanced by vishing. The data yield was offered for sale on general and uniquely designed sites on the deep/dark web. Money laundering via cryptocurrency exchanges converted the profits to fiat currency. POCA proceedings followed.
2019-2020 R V YANPOLSKY (Operation Zizane)
Sole/Junior Counsel - Large cybercrime prosecution. Complex sabotage cyberattacks on processing system for card payments, involving unauthorised theft of data to enable unauthorised access and amendment of data. Repeated hacking over a four-week period and malicious coding leading to a lengthy outage, multimillion pound loss and the disruption to the use of 6.3 million payment cards for a significant period. Issues and expert evidence relating to IP addresses, malware, hacking, identity theft and no-trace remote access. (Cyber CCU, London)
2019 R V KHAN and Others
Leading Counsel – Large cybercrime prosecution. A 4 defendant cybercrime-based conspiracy to defraud UK banks/Money Laundering using sophisticated malware. Expert evidence relating to IP addresses, cryptocurrency (retention, process and use) and internet banking procedures. Forfeiture included the forfeiture of crypto assets. (Cyber CCU, London, Birmingham Crown Court)
2017-18 R V MOLLACHIEV
Sole Counsel- Cybercrime prosecution involving a Conspiracy to defraud various UK banks/Money Laundering (circa £2 million), using malware, bots and botnets. Linked to Russia, Chechnya and a worldwide cybercriminal network. Complex expert evidence adduced including that relating to IP addresses, the use of PGP keys, remote computers, and other sophisticated anonymising no-trace technology. A paper heavy case which included the Russian translation of circa 17,000 pages of webchats. (Cyber CCU, London). Click here for news article.
INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE AND SERIOUS ORGANISED CRIME
2023 STYLES, TURCHET & SIVAKUMAR (Operation Lespedeza)
Sole Counsel – Prosecution of an international illegal immigration via serious organised crime. The illegal immigration of Albanians via private light aircraft into a non-designated private airfield by “career “go-to” criminals”.
2019-2022 (ongoing) (Operation Ultra)
Alleged blackmail and cryptocurrency mining offences committed following a ransomware attack.
2018 KOLICAJ & Others (Operation Jumfru)
Leading counsel – Prosecution of a 5 defendant, international money laundering operation (circa £7 million) by a UK based Organised Crime Gang (OCG) of Albanian origin. Transfer of monies to and through multiple European destinations, particularly Northern Greece and Romania. The evidence adduced emanated from National and International sources during a multi-agency cooperation during a long running investigation. (CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division (London)) (NCA). News articles - The London Economist and ITV News
2017 R V HUSSAIN (Operation Grabbets)
An Iranian linked, Money Exchange Bureaux, money laundering operation. (CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division (London)) (NCA)
2014-2016 R V OGUNDE and others (Operation Starving) followed by R V OPENE (Operation Starving (2))
Leading Counsel - 16 defendant cybercrime fraud/money laundering trial involving the dark web, international email hacking, internet and mandate fraud. (CPS International Justice and Organised Crime Division (Birmingham)) (NCA). Click here for news article.
2022 R V ANDERSON & others (Operation Inception)
Junior Counsel – 5 defendant murder/manslaughter with an initially suspected serious organised crime background. Issues concerning causation of death and joint enterprise participation existed at trial.
2021-2022 R V PRIDE (Operation Imperial)
Leading Counsel – Youth murder of a 17-year-old. Complex issues involving PTSD, conduct disorders and self-defence raised at trial. Click here for judgment.
2018-19 R V LUBASI
2018 R V MACLACHLAN-SIM
Sole Counsel – Attempted murder. Re-trial prosecution concerning ex-fenestration of girlfriend in a controlling relationship from 4th floor window,
2017 R V DWAYNE JOHNSON
Junior Counsel – Successful prosecution for murder where Defendant stabbed a host at a party following an argument and claimed self-defence (Nottingham). Click here for news article.
R V ROGERS
Sole Counsel - Racially aggravated Murder, sole Prosecution counsel in successful prosecution. Issues concerned causation, Diminished Responsibility and Loss of Control raised. (Luton). News articles - BBC and ITV News
COMPLEX CRIME DRUG CONSPIRACY CASES
2018 R V WEBSTER (and others) (Operation Starbreeze)
Leading prosecution counsel in 11-defendant substantial “County Lines” drug supply conspiracy (CCU Nottingham).
2018 R V IQBAL (and others) (Operation Logic)
Leading counsel in 8 defendant “County Lines” drugs supply conspiracy.
FRAUD/MONEY LAUNDERING/FINANCIAL CRIME
2021 R V RANDUCANU & Others (Operation Brickfelder)
Sole prosecution counsel in a London and countrywide largescale conspiracy to commit fraud/theft through exploiting ATM design defects using various devices such as “cashclaws” (Recorder of London, Central Criminal Court).
2019 R V DAVIES
Sole prosecution counsel in a fraud committed over several years where funds had been fraudulently claimed from public funds in respect of fictitious foster care.
2019 R V THOMPSON (Operation Amble)
Sole prosecution counsel in an allegation of fraud by a bank employee with managerial responsibilities.
2018 R V HOLMES and KALU
Sole prosecution counsel in substantial theft by school accountant and partner (Serious Fraud Department).
2018 R V FERARA and others (Operation Tremblor)
Sole prosecution counsel in a multidefendant conspiracy to steal committed over a large geographical area by an organised group.
SERIOUS SEXUAL OFFENCES/TRAFFICKING
2019 R V L
Sole prosecution counsel in a 30-count indictment alleging multiple historic sexual and related offences. The Complainant had effectively been imprisoned and substantially controlled by her stepfather from a young age, prostituted via the internet, being sexually exploited both domestically and internationally.
2018 R V H & C
Sole prosecution counsel in a numerous count sexual indictment which included a conspiracy to rape a 2 year old. The Complainant, due to age, was unable to give evidence. The defendants had multiple special needs including asperges and limited sight. Expert evidence dealt with Asperges and its effect upon culpability. Convictions resulted in a complex sentencing exercise.
2018 R V C and others
Sole prosecution counsel in 4 defendant multiple occasion rape case, where an Autistic Complainant (aged 13) was groomed via the internet.
2018 R V H; R V W
Sole prosecution counsel in multi complainant, interfamilial historic sex cases with vulnerable complainants.
2017 R V S
Sole prosecution counsel in a multiple sexual count indictment, spanning several years, concerning a celebrity’s allegations against his public-school housemaster
CASES OF LEGAL SIGNIFICANCE
R V FEELEY
Prosecution counsel. Authority concerning the amendment of Indictments upon re-trial from the Court of Appeal (s7 and 8 Criminal Appeal Act considered). Trial concerned Multiple Complainant historical child rape offences.  EWCA Crim 720;  2 Cr. App. R 13.
R V OSINIKOVIC AND SMILGINIS
Prosecution counsel at first instance. Conviction upheld in a conjoined appeal which reviewed the circumstances where it is appropriate to seek leave to appeal based on inconsistent verdict(s)  EWCA Crim 550.