Member of Chambers Profile

Jennifer Knight

Year of Call: 1996

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Email: Jenniferknight@2hb.co.uk Jenniferknight@2hb.co.uk.cjsm.net

Jennifer is a highly experienced barrister, with a strong prosecution practice in serious and complex crime. Described by instructing solicitors as possessing ‘first class advocacy skills’, Jennifer has been praised for her ‘skill and tenacity’ and is said to bring ‘an intelligent and incisive approach’ to her work whilst maintaining a ‘completely calm composure’. 

Specialising in the prosecution of serious sexual offences, Jennifer has a proven track record of securing convictions in challenging cases involving young and vulnerable witnesses. She has developed particular expertise in enabling complainants and witnesses with profound communication difficulties to give evidence and frequently works with intermediaries.  

Jennifer is instructed, both leading and as a junior, in cases of non-accidental head injury (shaken baby syndrome), murder and child cruelty cases involving serious injury. 

Having been instructed in a series of connected trials in respect of substantial bank frauds, Jennifer enjoys her fraud practice and recently secured the conviction of a managing director who stole several million pounds from a long-established timber   company leading to its demise.  

Jennifer also has considerable appellate experience. She represented the Crown in R v A [2014] EWCA Crim 299, where the Court of Appeal considered a novel point of law of substantial importance for future prosecutions.    

Jennifer frequently advises on disclosure where there are concurrent proceedings in the family and criminal jurisdictions; and has appeared for the Crown in the Principle Registry of the Family Division seeking the disclosure of material to which PII attaches and applying to protect such material during criminal investigations. 

As a level 4 on the CPS Advocate Panel List and a member of the Rape and Child Sexual Abuse Specialist Panel, Jennifer is recognised as a leader in her field and is regularly instructed in cases where Queen’s Counsel appear for the defence.

Recent notable cases

R v Clitheroe [2015] Prosecuting. The adult complainant in this case was profoundly deaf, non-speaking and had significant learning difficulties. The defendant was the complainant’s ex brother-in- law; he raped her repeatedly orally and vaginally over the course of a week during which she was in his sole care. The complainant was not fluent in British Sign Language.  Clear and considered arrangements were made for the complainant’s attendance at court and effective communication was achieved through a three-stage communication process utilising a deaf, non-speaking intermediary and a hearing BSL interpreter. The defendant was convicted.

R v Boyce [2015] Prosecution junior. Kane Boyce was a violent, obsessive man who brutally beat his girlfriend, punching and kicking her repeatedly and causing her to suffer a subdural haemorrhage. He failed to seek medical help until hours after the attack and the victim died before paramedics could assist her. The trial was complicated involving legal arguments in respect of the defendant’s bad character and the admissibility of expert evidence. The defendant advanced a robust defence but was convicted of murder.

R v Austin [2014] Prosecuting. Robert Austin stole millions of pounds from a long-established family timber company established by his decorated war-hero father after the Second World War. His vast thefts led to the company’s collapse and the loss of around 70 jobs. Austin was convicted and his 7 year sentence was recently upheld in the Court of Appeal.

R v SK [2014]  Prosecuting. The complainant GK was orally and vaginally raped by her father when she was 7 – 9 yrs old. A rare metabolic disorder caused GK to suffer profound learning disability severely limiting her communication and the prosecution was very challenging; SK was represented by Queen’s Counsel. The court and counsel worked with an intermediary and utilised a combination of special measures to enable the complainant to give evidence. The defendant was convicted.

R v W [2014]  Prosecuting. The two teenage complainants in this case were sisters; a family friend had raped them both repeatedly. The younger of the two suffered with severe learning delay. Counsel worked with an intermediary to construct a framework for questions and to design dolls and other models (eg a miniature loo) that the complainant could use to communicate effectively.

R v Coggins [2014]  Prosecuting. The historic abuse of three complainants whilst teenagers by the owner of a stables during the 1960s and ‘80s.

R v Smith [2014]  Prosecuting. The historic abuse of three pupils by their teacher, dating back to the late 1970s. The defendant took the victims on cycling trips and pretended to be ghost of a Victorian / WW2 child to perpetrate the abuse.

R v Sempers [2014]  Prosecuting. The defendant, a decathlete who had competed in the 2010 Commonwealth Games, worked as a teaching assistant at a West London school. He engaged in sexual activity with a teenage pupil following Facebook and other social media messaging.

R v Marturi [2014]  Prosecuting. The defendant, a class A drug-dealer, subjected his girlfriend to a campaign of appalling sexual and physical violence over the course of months; raping her repeatedly, breaking her nose and leaving her with bruising so severe that he kept her detained in his flat to avoid discovery.  The victim finally went to the police following the defendant’s infliction of devastating and fatal injuries on her cat.  In an attempt to evade arrest the defendant jumped from the window of his second floor flat, breaking both his legs, and was only caught following a prolonged police chase. He was convicted following a trial and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

R v A [2014] EWCA Crim 299; Prosecuting at first instance and before the Court of Appeal on a highly complex, novel point of law of substantial importance for future prosecutions. The Court of Appeal considered whether the Sexual Offences Act 2003 adequately addresses the test to be applied to determine capacity; and if not, whether the criminal courts should find the relevant test in the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Both A and the complainant (NB) had learning disabilities; A was deaf. A, indicted on one count of sexual touching, was not fit to plead. The act was admitted; A said NB had consented.  Psychologists for both parties produced reports. The Crown’s psychologist opined that NB lacked capacity; the defence psychologist, the opposite. At the finding of fact, capacity was the only live issue. The jury were directed in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which defines capacity and determines that it be decided on the civil standard. They found against A. A appealed and leave was granted by the full court on two grounds; that the wrong tests of fact and law were applied and that the definition of capacity was itself uncertain. Their Lordships view, following oral argument at the leave hearing, was that the finding against A should not have been made on the civil standard. I advised that the appeal be conceded but, having reviewed the complicated, contradictory authority on capacity against the background of the substantial body of highly nuanced psychological tests and evidence that formed the factual nexus of the case, set out vital questions, unanswered by authority, on which we sought their Lordships’ guidance. The Court endorsed the Crown’s stance as realistic and proper and their judgement addressed the questions I had identified.  

R v Wheatley [2012 – 2014] Prosecuting at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. The defendant was convicted on counts of rape and indecent assault, but acquitted on further rapes counts. Wheatley appealed these verdicts as inconsistent. The jury’s verdicts were unusual and the grounds appeared to have merit. The appeal was dismissed on the basis of my carefully argued skeleton argument, without further oral submissions being sought from the Crown.

R v Plant & Jones [2013]  Prosecuting at first instance and in the Court of Appeal. The defendants, the victim’s mother and her boyfriend, were charged with multiple counts of child cruelty, section 18 GBH and sexual assault, reflecting a skull fracture and serious injuries to the face and genitals of a 1 year old boy.  Plant was represented by Queen’s Counsel. Both defendants were convicted. Plant appealed and, following written submissions and full oral argument before the Court, his conviction was upheld.

R v Pallant, Davies and Shah [2013]  Prosecution junior. High profile case arising from Operation Yewtree involving historic allegations of sexual abuse including underage prostitution.

R v B&B [2012]  Prosecuting. The complainants in this case were the three natural daughters of the defendants. They were 12, 8 and 6 yrs old at the time of trial. The defendants had perpetrated the most serious sexual, physical and mental abuse on all three girls, it was described by the Judge as ‘systematic abuse’ which created ‘ a living nightmare’ for the children. The complainants had complex needs and were acutely anxious about giving evidence. I worked with an intermediary to implement rarely used combinations of special measures to address their fears: e.g. screening the defendants’ view of the video link monitor, to overcome the children’s fear of being seen whilst giving evidence; and enabling one of the children to use a small ‘den’ within the link room, for brief respite during her evidence.  Following a month long trial both defendants were convicted and sentenced to 23 years and 14 years.

R v Sahota, Limbu & Ahir [2012] Prosecuting. Physical and mental abuse of three elderly dementia patients in a residential care home.

R v Jerome Edwards [2012] Prosecuting. Leading counsel for the Crown in this murder in which the 10-month-old victim died of the effects of the ‘triad’ of injuries associated with non-accidental head injury caused by shaking / impact. The case turned on the evidence of leading experts in the fields of pathology, neuropathology and ophthalmology. The defendant was convicted of manslaughter.