Matthew Donkin is a much sought-after barrister, trusted to conduct cases of gravity and complexity. His dedication to the preparation of his cases has resulted in a terrific record of success for his clients. Having developed a strong reputation for defending and prosecuting cases of general crime, Matthew’s practice is now concentrated on accepting instructions to defend and prosecute serious and specialised cases.
Matthew has a busy defence practice, applying a high level of attention to his cases from an early stage, including written advice and multiple conferences. His preference is to meet clients at as early a stage as possible to fully understand their case and expectations. Matthew is recognised for his expertise in handling criminal cases of gravity and complexity. At only ten years call Matthew was appointed to the CPS panel of prosecutors at level 4, and prior to that had already been a member of the panel of approved advocates to conduct specialist rape and serious sexual offences. He accepts instructions to act as a junior alone, has significant experience as a led junior and also as a leading junior.
Matthew presently holds instructions, or has recently acted in, cases concerning homicide, significant and high-value financial crime, complex medical evidence, the fraudulent running of businesses and cases with an international element. Matthew has long experience of general crime including specifically fraud, Misuse of Drugs Act offences, sexual offences and non-fatal offences of violence.
Junior to Robert Smith QC. Newcastle Crown Court 2017. Prosecution of the defendant for the murder of his wife, the attempted murder of another person and offences of making indecent images. Matthew was instructed at a very early stage in this case which required particular sensitivity as the defendant had been a manager employed by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Junior alone. Leeds Crown Court 2017. Prosecution of the defendants following a high value commercial fraud and the distribution of significant funds through a network of business and private bank accounts. The initial offence revealed that the network was used to manoeuvre criminal assets worth well over £1 million.
Junior alone. Newcastle Crown Court 2017. Prosecution of a defendant for the attempted murder of his brother. The defendant carried out a pre-arranged plan to attend at his half-brother’s home under the pretence of supplying him with cannabis, and when his brother’s attention was diverted the defendant stabbed him three times with a kitchen knife before fleeing the scene. The victim survived only by virtue of the prompt arrival of the emergency services and medical treatment.
Junior to Robert Smith QC. Newcastle Crown Court 2017. Prosecution of a defendant identified fifteen months after the killing of David Wilson, and at a stage too late to obtain direct or scientific evidence. The case involved the use of digital image comparison, facial morphology comparison, comparison of evidence of gait, consideration of DNA evidence, voice comparison evidence and the calling of a witness with significant mental health difficulties who had named another person as being responsible for the killing.
Death of Daniel Brelsford. Junior alone. Sheffield Crown Court 2017. Defence of a 21 year old man accused of ‘one punch’ manslaughter. The defendant had been spending time with friends in the city centre and was approached by the deceased who was trying to sell him a watch he had just stolen. During the course of this exchange, the defendant swung out with his arm, making contact with the deceased’s face and causing him to fall to the ground and his head to strike the floor. The features of the case were the lawfulness of the blow struck and the detailed neuropathology of the impact and consequences of the contact with the ground.
Case known as ‘Operation Emerald’. Junior leading Graham O’Sullivan. Newcastle Crown Court 2016 / 2017. Prosecution of leading role defendants for the bulk importation of heroin and crack cocaine into Newcastle and Middlesbrough from elsewhere in the country, for subsequent distribution to street dealer level. This case concerned involved presenting the evidence of some six months of investigation and surveillance evidence.
This case also involved the use of a police intelligence source known as ‘XY’, a convicted child rapist who had assisted the police investigation as an informant. In October 2016 the defendants sought to have the proceedings stayed on the grounds of an abuse of process – along with other defendants in Operation Shelter – proceedings in which Matthew acted as a further junior to John Elvidge QC. The circumstances of the conduct of the defendants after conviction, and the deployment of ‘XY’ by the police, attracted widespread media attention.
Case known as ‘Operation Monroe’. Junior alone. Sheffield Crown Court 2017. Defending a client in a multi-handed case in which six different vulnerable complainants gave evidence of historical sexual abuse including being forced into prostitution and raped over a period of time when they were in the care system or had otherwise left home in their adolescence.
Case known as ‘Operation Highbank’. Junior leading James Gelsthorpe. Bradford Crown Court 2016. Instructed by the Complex Casework Unit to prosecute eight defendants who were involved in the sale of stolen and counterfeit goods. The criminal enterprise ran for a period of years generating enormous income. The principle offenders, one of whom was serving a custodial sentence as the activity began, traded the goods through eBay, by using multiple different trading accounts and then dissipating the funds across a network of Paypal accounts before being realised as cash withdrawals. The case involved the understanding and presentation of thousands of transactions and the interlinking between dozens of eBay trading accounts and PayPal accounts.
The murder of David Walsh. Junior to Robert Smith QC. Newcastle Crown Court 2016. Prosecution of four defendants for the horrific killing of David Walsh, using knives and a pipe cutter. Mr Walsh attended at the rear of an address in Sunderland following an assault upon his son, and was then set upon by attackers emerging from the rear of a property carrying an assortment of weapons. Issues in the case were principally of joint enterprise and culpability as primary or secondary offenders.
The death of TB. Junior to Robert Smith QC. Newcastle Crown Court 2015. TB was three months old when she was found unresponsive and later pronounced dead. The defendants were her mother and partner, who failed to provide a truthful account of events leading to her collapse. The baby was found to have bruising consequent to blunt force impact. Expert medical evidence demonstrated the findings of the classic ‘triad’ in this case indicating that the cause of death was forceful acceleration and deceleration consistent with the child being shaken or thrown.
Sheffield Crown Court. 2015. Junior alone.
Prosecution of a defendant who poured petrol over his partner. After then beating her, on two occasions the defendant tried to spark a lighter to set fire to the complainant, by good fortune failing to do so. The offences were committed in the presence of children and the complainant had to flee the house leaving her infant son inside the property. The defendant then tried to set fire to the house.
Sheffield Crown Court. 2015. Junior alone.
Prosecution of three defendants who kidnapped two other men at gunpoint before detaining them in Sheffield and making ransom demands. The ordeal ended when armed police officers intercepted the defendants. Issues of identification, DNA evidence and voice recognition.
Junior to Robert Smith Q.C. Sheffield Crown Court. 2015.
Prosecution of four defendants following the fatal stabbing of a man in Sheffield over a drug debt. There was no direct evidence of who was responsible for the murder, but the case was proven by some DNA evidence, telephone call data and cell-site and voice recognition. That voice recognition included the evidence that one of the two men accused of murder had shouted “Stop” during the attack. The man who inflicted the injuries was convicted of murder, and the man who shouted “stop” of manslaughter. Two other defendants were convicted of perverting the course of justice. Issues of joint enterprise, interpretation of DNA and blood analysis, cell-site and telephone interrogation.
Junior alone. Nottingham Crown Court 2015.
Represented a defendant who was accused of Attempted Murder after deliberately driving his car at his own father, and then repeatedly driving backwards and forwards over him when on the ground. The defendant was convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent, contrary to section 18 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861. Issues of the defendant’s mental health and relevant intent.
Successful prosecution of nine defendants who were all variously involved in a widespread criminal enterprise of stealing high value cars and rapidly stripping them down before dispersal to other parts of the country. The value was over £300,000 over three months. Over thirty telephones were used by the conspirators. Issues of cell-site evidence, attribution of telephones using SIM and IMEI numbers and identification evidence.
Derby Crown Court. 2014. Junior alone.
Successful representation of the defendant, who was known to the complainant, and accused of entering her home and sexually assaulting whilst she was asleep. The Crown then alleged that he conducted a campaign of intimidation against anyone who became involved in the case. The defendant required an intermediary at trial as he suffered from a number of physical and mental health disabilities having been injured in an accident as a child. Issues were the vulnerability and difficulties for the defendant and identification. This case had one further unique feature, being that it was a re-trial and one of the jurors from the original trial was called to give evidence concerning a matter that she had witnessed.