Karen Walton


Karen Walton specialises in serious crime and maintains a practice that involves both defending serious criminal matters and prison law work. She is an experienced, heavyweight criminal practitioner with a proven record in dealing with the most serious of offences. She has been instructed in multiple defendant violence and fraud requiring meticulous analysis of complex case papers. She has extensive experience in the sensitive handling of vulnerable defendants/witnesses. Karen is frequently instructed in matters relating to gang-related offences and has established herself as a specialist in this area.

Her practice includes serious sexual assaults (recent and historic), serious violence, child cruelty, drugs cases, cases involving victims and defendants with mental health problems and learning disabilities, confiscation proceedings. Her led work has included murder, serious violence, historic sexual abuse by multiple family members, fraud and large scale drug offences.

In 2018, Karen represented a significantly higher number than usual of defendants with mental health problems and comunication or learning difficulties such as austism and aspergers. As a consequence she has extensive experience of instructing intermediaries or expert witnesses to act for the defence. She has also undertaken a significant amount of cases involving complainants who are under 10 and therefore represented defendants under the new protocol to try and achieve trial within 8 weeks of charge.

Karen is one of the most experienced members of a team within Drystone Chambers who specialise in serious sexual offence matters. This team offers seminars on all areas of sexual offences trials, providing short bespoke seminars or larger networking events. Karen is also a qualified vulnerable witness training trainer, Middle Temple.

Chambers & Partners says: "She is very patient and has an excellent rapport with clients. She is dynamic in her approach, but very understanding of the limits when it comes to cross-examining vulnerable complainants".

Read more

Notable cases

R v D
- matricide, issues of insanity and diminished responsibility.

R v J - 7 handed murder, D1, cut throat issues and joint enterprise.

R v G - sexual assault of 74 yrs. old, issues of insanity, complex mental health diagnosis requiring the instruction of three experts for the defence to consider disposal. 

R v Safkonaite. Instructed to represent the mother in a case of allowing or causing serious harm to a child.

R v S. Case dismissed following a submission of no case, Youth Court case where the defendant aged 14 was accused of sexual assault upon his 4 yr old niece.

R v S. Acquitted of 9 count indictment including rape and sexual assault of a child under 13.

R V X. Represented a man who worked as a volunteer for The Royal British Legion, having served in the Forces. Accused by a number of women of various sexual offences in their homes over a period of time. Acquitted of all charges, save for one complainant. Sentence was granted leave to appeal on the issue of whether the defendant was in a position of trust. Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal, but stated that the position the applicant held was not a trusted position.

R v F. Defended an historic sexual offences case, dating back 20 yrs. Acquitted of all counts. This was a difficult case as the prosecution dropped the case against the initial complainant before the trial. The case proceeded against the remaining complainant where the defence had to introduce the initial complaint as part of the defence.

R v B. Represented a 14 yr old defendant charged with s.18 offence, alleged assault with an axe. Prosecution offered no evidence

R v XYZ. Instructed in a multi-handed, gang related Conspiracy to Steal. Telephones stolen to order. 

R v C. Robbery [bank robberies] and imitation firearms. This is a case where fitness to plead and issues of dangerousness have necessitated the instruction of a number of expert reports for both the defence and prosecution

This year Karen has represented an increasing number of defendants with complex mental health needs. She has undertaken two cases this year requiring s.35/41 hearings where a s.41 restriction order has been ordered.

Court of Appeal - Hafedh Rashid & others [2019]. Appeal against conviction for firearm and offensive weapon offences, further to trial listed below. See press link for trial coverage and second link for full Court of Appeal Judgment.

  1. Newham Recorder
  2. Court of Appeal Judgment Transcript

Contributor to Third International Advocacy Conference, Nottingham Trent University. Centre of Advocacy and The Advocates Toolkit programme, focusing on how the courts in England, Wales and Scotland support vulnerable witnesses.

R v C. Historic sexual offences, including rape. Issues of social media disclosure and admissibility.

R v S. Multiple counts of sexual assault and rape. Complainants were all under 10 yrs old. Due to issues with the live link I was asked to cross examine a child under 7 in court, behind a screen. The case required expert assessment of the children’s video evidence taken at the police station.

R v H. Sexual assault where the complainant was 94 yrs old. Due to issues with special measures provisions I cross examined the complainant in court behind a screen.

R v Simmons. S.18 and Coercion case. Experts instructed on causation of injuries.

R v Rashid. S.16 Firearms Act case. Gang related case. Defendant’s were all known to the gang unit. Lengthy legal argument on the issue of the admissibility of ‘drill’ videos, gang unit ‘expertise’ and bad character.

R v Patrick. Possession of drugs with intent to supply. This case was a case where the defendant referred himself to the NRM, following discussions at court regarding the facts of his involvement. Determined that the defendant was a victim [exploitation, violence] under the Trafficking provisions and the CPS decided not to proceed with their case. Acquitted.

R v Q. Aggravated burglary, where the facts included the use of hammers, machete and wooden poles to cause injury. Joint participation was one of the issues in the case. Represented the juvenile in the case and assisted the court with the complex sentencing framework for young defendants. This resulted in the defendant receiving a YRO, intensive order.

R v J. Historic rape and sexual activity with a family member. Case proceedings from allegations said to have occurred over 30 years ago. Acquitted.

R v Goodall. Historic child neglect case. This case dated back to the mid 1970’s and involved extensive disclosure of social service records. Acquitted of more serious sexual and violent aspects of the case.

R v L. Multiple counts of rape within a marriage. Acquitted.

R v R. rape and rape of a child under 13. This case concerned multiple allegations of rape and sexual activity with a child. The children were under 10 when the offences were said to have occured. Acquitted of all counts.

R v Harvey. Cross examination of a child under 6. Convicted on a retrial.

R v K. Rape and assault case where the complainant was an adult. Acquitted.

R v H. Advice on the issue of convictions out of UK jurisdiction and the notification requirements under UK law if a person returns to the UK.

R v F. represented a defendant with transgender issues. Sexual offences upon a child age 13. All parties were vulnerable and required the assistance of intermediaries.

R v S. multiple counts of indecency of a child. Historic familial case between uncle and neice. Acquitted.

R v C. s.18 committed with a hammer. Convicted following a trial, sentence 6 yrs due to mitigation accepted by the court.

R v W. instructed in a case involving several young defendants said to be gang members in London. Defendant under 16 and involved in a serious road traffic incident soon after the Westminster terrorist attack. Facts of the case were highly sensitive given the nature of the offence and the recent terrorist attack.

R v O. Assault upon a prison officer and possession of an unauthorised item in prison. Disclosure of prison records. Acquitted.


Instructed in a large scale 'boiler room' fraud at Southwark Crown Court where the prosecution case alleges conspiracy to defraud the public of £1.5 million.

Hasina Begum and others -Defendant one of 11 accused of conspiracy to defraud a number of high street banks by the use of personal details of bank account holders. [Very High Cost Case].

Operation Odeum, Film Tax Credit fraud, Southwark Crown Court.

Operation Tangelo 2. Largest VHCC case to date of VAT fraud/ POCA offences, HMRC offered no evidence against all 19 defendants after disclosure difficulties.

R v Aziz. Defendant accused of conspiracy to defraud the Abbey Building Society of between £500,000 and £600,000 by using personal account details. Successfully challenged prosecution application to have a trial in absence when the defendant left the UK for Pakistan at time of trial. Confiscation proceedings successfully challenged and abandoned by prosecution. Dixon and Others -Conspiracy to supply class A drugs.


R v Clayton. Sexual activity with a child, incitement case. Entrapment and abuse of process following issues of ‘paedophile hunter’ investigations and disclosure. Prosecution eventually offered no evidence.


R v T. represented a young defendant accused of raping his young brother. Acquitted.

R v B. represented a defendant accused of rape and sexual assault upon a vulnerable young woman with learning difficulties. Acquitted.

R v S. Case under the Sexual Offences Act that involved the cross examination of a number of children under the age of 13yrs.


R v Johnson. The first stalking prosecution. Blackfriars Crown Court. The case involved a high profile news reader, social media communication and freedom of speech. The defendant was acquitted of the more serious sexual assault offence.

R v Goss. Lincoln Crown Court, Rape case involving argument in relation to the fact that the defendant had already been given a violent offenders order for a previous conviction and involved third party disclosure and admissibility issues.

Previous notable cases

R v Lawson. s.33 Sexual Offences Act 2003, Blackfriars CC June 2013. Operation Odeum, 2nd prosecution for Film tax Credit fraud by HMRC, acquitted. Karen led Mark Himsworth in the first trial under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, s. 71, offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour. The appeal is reported at [2013] EWCA Crim 368.

She has been instructed in numerous trials involving the travelling community. Her defence work ranges widely from fraud to offences of violence and sexual assault. She has handled sensitive cases including defending serving prisoners accused of violent and sexual offences upon prison staff and more recently a Magistrate charged with fraud.

R v Connors, contrary to section 71 Coroners and Justice Act 2009, first trial under the new act for offences of Servitude and Forced Labour.

R v C, junior counsel instructed in murder at the CCC with a 14 year old defendant. Acquitted of murder.

R v C and others, instructed in an historic, familial rape case involving three generations of young girls abused by three related men over three decades.

R v O, familial rape, where the victim was 9 years at the time of the offence. This complex case included legal argument on hearsay evidence of the complaint, hostile witnesses[including the mother of both the defendant and complainant] and DNA evidence.

R v Ewen, section 18 offences against a mother and son. Mentally ill defendant. Acquitted.

R v M, rape, witness to the allegation treated as hostile in the course of the trial. Acquitted.

R v Smith - Offence contrary to section 18 OAPA 1861, involving allegation of stabbing which caused the victim serious abdominal injuries. A witness refused to go into the witness box and an abuse of process argument was ultimately successful following the Crown's failed applications to treat him as a hostile witness and to read his statement as admissible hearsay.

R v Wykes - offences of sexual assault of children over the internet and child pornography. R v Ankers and Others -possession with intent to endanger life, possession of a MAC 10 firearm and ammunition. Represented a juvenile alleged to be one of the suppliers of the firearm. Acquitted.

R v H, sexual abuse of sister, complex sexual offences case involving disclosure of social services history, previous complaints and retractions

R v Dos Santos, multi-handed large scale conspiracy to import class C drugs. Leeds Crown Court, defendant acquitted of all counts.


Publications and Appointments

She lectured in criminal law and evidence from 2001-2004. She was a contributor to the Criminal Law and Evidence Manual, Cambridge Press. This has given her an expertise in written legal submissions and is an accredited IATC Advocacy trainer. She is a mentor to a young person under the UpRising project, East London. Co-founder Pendyfrynn Children’s Trust, respite holidays for refugee children and children with long term or terminal illness. 

Associations and memberships

  • Women In Criminal Law
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • Middle Temple trainer [Vulnerable Witnesses / Ethics]
  • Middle Temple sponsorship scheme [Bridging the Gap / Diversity Scheme]
  • Chair of Stockwell Says Hello (Working with refugees under the UK Resettlement programme)