Phil Barnes

Phil Barnes

Year of call:

2014, Middle Temple


Phil Barnes


Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Court)


Northern Circuit


University of Leicester, LL.B Hons

Phil came to the criminal Bar after twelve years of hard-earned experience in a criminal solicitor's practice. 

Those who are not familiar with him should not be fooled by the 2014 call date.  He is a seasoned criminal practitioner with significant experience of the full breadth of criminal law and procedure - from motoring to murder, and from the custody office to the Court of Appeal.

His rise through the solicitor's profession was swift.  He was admitted to the roll in 2005.  The following year, when appointing him as a duty solicitor at the age of 25, the head of the law school at the University of Cardiff described him as "one of the most talented young solicitors we have ever had through the scheme". 

As a solicitor he appeared regularly in the Crown Courts from the outset, and in 2008 - three years after admission to the roll - he was granted higher rights of audience without further examination, based solely on the experience he had built into his daily practice. 

From then on, Phil spent every working day presenting cases before judge and jury, predominantly in Manchester, forging himself a reputation as one of the city's leading solicitor-advocates. 

It was that profile - recognised by Bar and bench alike - which brought him to the attention of our criminal team, and in 2014 Phil was called to the Bar in order to take up an offer of tenancy here at 9 St John Street.

The Crown Prosecution Service acknowledged his experience, appointing him immediately as a category 3 prosecutor with accreditation to prosecute serious sexual offences.  Such work now forms a significant part of his practice, and his prosecution work has developed rapidly.  He now receives instructions on a regular basis from the CPS fraud, complex casework and POCA groups.

He also continues to defend in the most serious of matters, and has represented defendants charged with murder and attempted murder, rape, historic sexual abuse, drugs importation and supply, kidnapping, serious violence, fatal motoring offences, robbery, cyber-crime and complex fraud.   He has appeared before the Court of Appeal on a number of occasions, appealing against both convictions and sentences.

Phil prides himself on being able to deliver the expertise demanded of the Bar, layered with the touch, diligence and understanding carried over from his years as a solicitor.

And his new life at 9 brings with it new ambitions and new challenges.  In January 2017 Phil was appointed as a Deputy District Judge (Magistrates’ Court) and now sits for around 50 days per year across the North of England.


  • R v GM, MR and PS (2017) - appearing alone, instructed by the CPS complex casework unit, prosecuting three defendants for conspiracies to supply various drugs as well as possession of firearms with intent to endanger life, resulting in convictions for all three.
  • R v DW (2017) - defending a police community support officer accused of perverting the course of justice by fabricating evidence to exonerate herself from an investigation into her conduct.  The defendant was acquitted at the direction of the Judge at the conclusion of the prosecution case.
  • Operation Serpent (2016) - led junior, prosecuting multiple defendants for the importation of numerous kilogram-plus quantities of heroin via the postal system.   
  • R v MC (2016) - defending a care worker charged with the physical abuse of a severely autistic patient under his care.  The defendant was acquitted after trial, and re-instated to his job.
  • R v RM (2015) - prosecuting a defendant charged with historic sexual abuse of his sister in childhood, resulting in conviction on two counts of rape.
  • R v MA and JG (2015) - prosecuting two defendants for drugs supply and money laundering following police raids on a number of addresses.  Each defendant sought to blame the other, and both were convicted at trial. 
  • R v CS (2014) - defending, led by eminent Queen's Counsel, in a two-defendant double-homicide case (murder and manslaughter) involving cut-throat defences and issues of cross-admissibility.  Phil's role included resisting PII applications in order to attempt to force the disclosure of sensitive material.
  • R v JD (2014) - defending one of two professional sportsmen charged with rape of a young female in a hotel room.  The case involved careful exploration of the issues around consent and the impact of alcohol consumption, and much of the evidence was derived from social media traffic between the parties.  JD was acquitted, the co-defendant was convicted.
  • R v JKB (2013) - defending, alone, representing a defendant charged with attempted murder and wounding with intent in the alternative.  The defendant, relying on self-defence and significant fabrication by the complainant group, was acquitted of both counts.
  • R v AD (2013) - appearing as a led junior, defending a serial stranger-rapist accused of using very serious violence in order to commit offences against numerous women.  Throughout the case Phil took charge of the technical evidence (cell-site, ANPR), questioning the relevant witnesses and also vetting the police electronic evidence presentation pre-trial.
  • R v DB (2012) - defending a professional HGV driver accused of causing the death of an elderly pedestrian by careless driving.  The driver was acquitted after cross-examination of the first witness.

Specialist Areas of Practice:


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