Nicholas qualified as a Barrister in 2001. His practice is diverse but mainly focuses on serious sexual or violent offenders. He is a Crown Court trial advocate who has appeared in the Court of Appeal on a number of occasions and has experience in conducting Judicial Review Proceedings in the High Court.
Nicholas has a great deal of experience in cases involving:
- The downloading/distribution of indecent images of children,
- Grooming cases using online social media,
- Arranging or facilitating the commission of child sexual offences and,
- Causing or inciting children to engage in sexual activities.
- Cases of rape
- Historical sexual offences
Many of these cases involve the complex forensic examination of computer hardware and software. Nicholas has considerable expertise in a range of computer programs having designed complex case analysis software to deal with very large databases.
He is qualified to represent clients at the police station, Magistrates’ and Crown Courts. He is therefore able to deal with a case from start to finish. This is particularly important in cases where clients are keen to maintain a single point of contact throughout this process.
There is little doubt that cases such as these require a sensitive, compassionate and meticulous advocate. Client’s prosecuted for these offences face seemingly unsurmountable problems surrounding the potential loss of liberty, the breakdown of familial relationships, loss of jobs and exposure in the press. It is often extremely difficult for clients to speak candidly about these allegations and earning confidence is a priority.
"The outcome was the best that could reasonably have been hoped for, and I put that down to your persistence in advocating for me and your attention to detail. Throughout the whole process you were honest with me, but also compassionate and sensitive to the emotional demands I faced at every stage. I know my wife greatly valued your support during the two hearings, which were very stressful times for her. I am hugely grateful." Client feedback
The Criminal Law team are highly ranked in the 2020 edition of The Legal 500, the UK's leading guide to law. They said:
"This firm is ahead of the market in terms of its client care and its attention to detail. They do more multi-agency work than many other firms, recently putting on an excellent seminar with psychologists. They offer a blend of essential qualities that are required in dealing with stressful and delicate matters."
Areas of Expertise
- Criminal Law
- Internet Crime - Illegal Images, Grooming, Sexting, Virtual Offending
- Contact Sexual Offences, especially with issues regarding Consent, Historic Allegations and Professionals
Recent Notable Cases
September 2019 Truro Crown Court. Defendant found to be in possession of over 3000 indecent images of children accessed over a significant period of time with various other aggravating features. Strong personal mitigation in respect of addressing his offending behaviour and likely loss of career resulted in a suspened sentence. SHPO imposed for the minimum period of five years no doubt as a reflection on the hard work he had done to reduce his risk.
August 2019 Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police v S. Represented the respondent in an application for a Sexual Risk Order. Whilst the client accepted that an order had to be made the police had applied overly stringent prohibitions and for a period of ten years. Negotiations with police counsel resulted in a number of prohibitions being removed or amended in the respondent’s favour and the order being made for two instead of ten years.
July 2019 Winchester Crown Court. B pleaded guilty to 3 offences of Publishing an Obscene Article contrary to the Obscene Publications Act 1964. Whilst the learned judge noted that the content of the online publications was “vile” and made reference to children, there was no victim in the proper sense. The harm done related to private conversations with likeminded individuals and the feeding of their addiction for this kind of material. B received a community order. It was not appropriate to make him subject to the sex offenders register or a sexual harm prevention order.
June 2019 Bristol Crown Court: defendant faced a one week trial following an allegation of rape. Defence experts instructed to consider DNA evidence and to provide a psychological report for the defendant who had been profoundly affected by the allegations. After an hours deliberation the jury returned with an unanimous acquittal.
May 2019 Bristol Crown Court: sentence for Sexual Communication and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity. Undercover police officer case. Crown had charged an attempt under s.8 Sexual offences Act 2003 but were persuaded that s.10 was appropriate (i.e. that the child was under 16 as opposed to 13). Suspended sentence 20 weeks.
Apr 2019 The Queen (on the application of D) v. The Director of Public Prosecutions, judicial review of Crown’s decision to prosecute a child for the making of indecent images where a Youth Conditional Caution was otherwise appropriate.
Feb 2019 Durham Crown Court. S acquitted of 3 charges regarding AB and C images. Forensic evidence revealed the images were found within unallocated clusters on the defendant’s devices and there was insufficient evidence that they had been created by a deliberate and intentional act by the defendant.
Jan 2019 W was prosecuted for two offences of attempting a sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act. This was a vigilante sting with the group presenting the profile of a 13 year old girl that did not exist. The usual method of such groups is to engage with the so called paedophile on social media with a view to arranging to meet up. Such meets will complete the offence of grooming. The vigilante group usually meets with the perpetrator in a public place, films their shame and posts it on social media to glorify their commitment to protecting children. In this case the conversations had gone on for a period of 9 months. It would have been clear to anyone that W had mental health or learning difficulties (W had both) and was childlike. Clearly completing the offence and filming W might have backfired since he was so painfully vulnerable. The Crown were persuaded to drop the more serious charge or face an abuse of argument submission. The defendant pleaded guilty to the lesser offence and received a community order. The Learned Judge was persuaded that a sexual harm prevention order was not required in this case. The defendant was simply lonely. All previous efforts to enter into a relationship had resulted in him being ignored on dating websites. The only person that seemed prepared to talk to him was the vigilante group posing as a 13 year old girl. There was no evidence he had a sexual interest in children.
Aug 2018 B faced an indictment of 9 offences ranging from possession of category A, B and C images, distribution of B and C images and encouraging another to commit sexual offences against children (s.44 of the Serious Crime Act 2007), which the Crown were persuaded to amend to persuading others to distribute. B had shown real commitment to his rehabilitation and received a suspended sentence of 16 months.
May 2018 HM Attorney General’s Reference, Court of Appeal. Nicholas Wragg represented Mr D at the Court of Appeal following representation at trial where the defendant had been convicted of a number of sexual offences against two victims. The Learned Judge at the Crown Court imposed sentences which the Attorney General considered unduly lenient.
May 2018 Nicholas Wragg represented Mr C at Taunton Crown Court in respect of a number of offences of making indecent images of children. Mr C had a previous conviction for the same and faced an immediate custodial sentence. Mr C had becoming fully committed to addressing his offending behaviour and had been earmarked for a treatment needs assessment pioneered by Mowbray Woodwards Solicitors with forensic psychologists. Originally an adjournment had been sought but the Learned Judge at the Crown Court indicated that he was sufficiently impressed with Mr C’s efforts at rehabilitation that the matter could be resolved. Mr C received a suspended sentence of 16 months for two years and 30 days rehabilitation activity requirement.
2018 Bristol Crown Court - Vigilante case where undercover journalist entrapped client by posing as a child. Representations made to Crown to alter indictment from more serious inciting offence. Lengthy legal argument in respect of necessity and terms of Sexual Harm Prevention Order. Defendant avoided immediate custodial sentence.
2018 Defendant tried for number of serious alleged sexual offences against his daughter. Required expert reports, vulnerable witness intermediary (child) and submission of pre prepared cross examination questions.
2018 Five day trial of man accused of incited sexual activity with a 15 year old including penetration and the sending of indecent images. Substantial disclosure of forensic telephone evidence.
2018 Trial of man accused of making indecent images of children. Case dismissed as a result of defence expert findings and careful cross examination of prosecution expert witness.
2018 Prosecution of young man accused of making and distributing particularly serious indecent images of children.
2018 University researcher accused of sexually assaulting post graduate. Careful assessment of disclosure revealed student was performing badly academically, was at risk of exclusion from the university and deportation. Student had made allegations to a prior university. No further action taken.
2018 Mr B had a previous conviction for making and distributing indecent images of children that had resulted in a three year prison sentence. On this occasion he was found in possession of a single category A image. Negotiations with the Crown resulted in them agreeing to him making a category C image on the basis that they could not demonstrate that the category A image was made by a deliberate act on his part. On this occasion he managed to avoid a custodial sentence and was instead put on a sex offenders programme.
2018 Vigilante operation based on the posting by a journalist of a fake profile of an under fifteen female seeking contact with an older man. Originally charged with attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity including penetration but changed to attempting to meet a child following grooming after representations made to the Crown.
2017 Swindon Crown Court. P a landlord, had purchased a spy pen and placed it in his lodgers bedroom. She found it and alerted the police. Police seized computers and phones and found indecent images of children of all categories. The defendant, a professional man, sought assistance from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, Stop it Now and StopSO. As a result of these enquires he contacted a psychotherapist specialising in sexual issues. The defendant faced an immediate custodial sentence but careful advice and management of his case resulted in a suspended sentence. This case was featured in the local news.
2017 Bristol Crown Court. Representing a defendant with no previous convictions for being in possession of indecent images of children. Complex forensics issues in respect of images the defendant had browsed on the internet as compared to those he had physically saved. Negotiations with Crown in order to determine appropriate charging strategy and detailed basis of plea. Referral of client to various agencies enabling him to address his offending behaviour thereby avoiding an immediate custodial sentence.
2017 Bristol Crown Court. Representing a defendant who was found to be in possession of many thousands of category A, B and C indecent images stored on his mobile phone. In addition he had used social media in order to incite vulnerable mothers to abuse their babies. He had in the process distributed a number of images at all levels.
2017 Swindon Crown Court. Representing a defendant who had downloaded some 35,000 indecent images of children of categories A, B and C (at that time Oliver Levels 1-5). He had also distributed a significant number of images thereby aggravating the seriousness of the case against him.
2017 Westminster Magistrates Court: Representing a high profile personality in respect of an “upskirting” offence where he had used his mobile telephone to take a photograph up the skirt of a female on an escalator in London. Much to the defendant’s distress the female turned out to be 17 years of age. This defendant could have been charged with an offence of making an indecent image of a child but the Crown Prosecution Service were sensibly persuaded in all the circumstances to charge him with outraging public decency. As a result the defendant was not made subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.