Michael Magarian KC


Michael prides himself on being a fearless fighter at the Old Bailey where he appears regularly. In 2021 he has been instructed in several fatal gang related crimes. Michael represented Vagnei Colubali charged with the murder of an NHS worker following a brutal gang attack in Custom House. At the Old Bailey as recently as October 2021, Michael appeared in another gang murder representing the defendant in R -v- R.

In 2021 Michael was successful in a major Court of Appeal decision R v Gould in which the proceedings in the Crown Court were quashed [EWCA/Crim/2021/447]

In another appeal in 2021 he was praised by the Court with Mr Justice Spencer saying that the appeal had been presented “with great skill and force by Mr Magarian”. [EWCA/Crim/2021/447]

In 2019 Michael successfully defended a man charged with murder by shaking his eight week old child. The trial lasted 5 weeks in front of the Common Serjeant at the Old Bailey and involved complex issues of medical causation and criticisms of interventions by paramedics and allegations of botched intubation at the hospital. The defendant was found not guilty of both murder and manslaughter.

In May 2018 Michael successfully defended in R v Grannum at the Old Bailey. The allegation was of a gang related shooting of an innocent lady in Kilburn. This was said to be a shooting by 2 boys from the 'Harrow road boys' gang. The prosecution claimed that the 2 assailants seen on CCTV must have been the defendants. The jury acquitted of murder and manslaughter. These verdicts occurred at a time when the newspapers were full of reports of gang violence being out of control. Michael is a fearless defence advocate who prides himself upon standing shoulder to shoulder with his client. He was counsel in the initial Damilola Taylor murder trial in which his client was acquitted. He took silk on his 1st application in 2011. He has acted in many organised crime cases and has led in many murder trials, both before and after taking silk. The Legal 500 recommends Michael as a leading silk, stating: "His practice includes defending in cases with medical causation issues"."He is very intellectual and is greatly respected by judges as a result". "He gets on easily with clients and solicitors alike". "He has a long track record of defending in high-profile cases".

Michael has a proven track record in handling gang related cases. In April-May 2014 he appeared for the 1st defendant in R v Degoze at the Old Bailey. This involved a knowledge of North London gangs especially the North London Somalis and Young Albanian Gunners. The case involved a revenge attack after one of the defendant's brothers had been attacked. In Jan-Feb 2014 at the same court Michael defended in R v Walczyk, an especially brutal killing of a homeless man. In July-Aug 2014 Michael appeared for a police Superintendent at Preston Crown Court charged with various fraud allegations, it being said that he falsified his CV to gain promotion in various police forces. Michael is qualified to accept instructions on a direct access basis.

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Areas of practice

Notable cases

R v Colubali. Old Bailey. July 2021. Multi-handed trial with the defendants charged with the murder of an NHS worker following a brutal gang attack in Custom House.

R -v- R. Old Bailey. October 2021. Represented a defendant in a multi-handed murder trial following the stabbing of a 19-year-old man in East London. 

R v Ahmed, Hove Crown Court, January 2018: Michael secured a manslaughter plea for Mohammed Ahmed at Hove Crown Court. In this case the defendant was a heroin dealer who killed one of his clients by stabbing him twice in the upper chest. By skilful negotiations Michael and his junior Piers Marquis persuaded the Crown to abandon the murder charge and the defendant received 12 years’ imprisonment.

R v Lawless, Hove Crown Court, October 2017: Michael Magarian and SVS solicitors secure murder acquittal.

R v McClymont before the Recorder of Croydon, August 2017. Michael secured an acquittal in an alleged honey trap murder. This was a ‘cut throat’ defence in which the co-accused was convicted.

Michael appeared in the guideline case on IPP’s and the new life sentences Edwards ([2013] EWCA Crim 1027 ) in front of the Lord Chief Justice. In the last few months Michael led the successful defence of David Kent who was accused of being the ringleader of a massive cocaine and cannabis importation enterprise. He was indicted on 4 separate conspiracies and faced a separate laundering indictment arising from the drugs case. At a first trial the jury was hung. At the retrial he was acquitted and, as a corollary, the laundering case also collapsed.

Michael also defended in Hummerstone, an especially brutal murder of one drug dealer by another heard at Chelmsford Crown Court Sinclair Lewis (2012) Michael Magarian QC and Jonathan Black of BSB secured the acquittal of Sinclair Lewis. This was a cold case investigation. The top half of Julie Dorsett’s skeleton was found on an allotment plot belonging to the defendant’s father 5 years after she went missing. In addition, there was evidence of domestic violence by the defendant against her. At the initial trial HHJ Rook QC was persuaded to discharge the murder count. The case proceeded as manslaughter and preventing a lawful burial. The jury was undecided. At the retrial he was acquitted on those remaining charges. The case involved an isotope expert who purported to give the date of death.

Nathan Mann (& anor) 2012 Two prisoners at HMP Frankland disembowelled and killed a sex offender. Mann was already a life prisoner, having killed 2 old ladies in a nursing home in an earlier case. The new case had cannibalistic aspects. There was a complicated psychiatric defence which resulted in a successful plea of diminished responsibility.

Sacha Williamson (& others) 2011 Successful defence in the Camberwell arson in which a baby was killed. Michael is due to act for another woman accused of killing her baby after a suggestion that it had been taken over by an evil spirit.

Spartley (2008) The biggest importation of ecstasy pills at that time (weight of pills 0.5 tonnes).

The Damilola Taylor murder (2003) The original trial which collapsed after the discrediting of the key witness. John Palmer and others (2002) This concerned organised crime on Tenerife through timeshare fraud. The loss was said to be £33m. John Drewe (1999) Modern art forgeries of Giacomettis, Nicholsons and Sutherlands Cowan 1996 1 CAR 1 Led by Michael Mansfield QC in the first guideline case on s.35 inferences from silence in court. The Guinness appeal (1993) R v Ernest Saunders and others. Represented Anthony Parnes. Led by Clare Montgomery QC.

He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge where he was a Scholar and took a Double First in History/Law. He was also a Karmel Scholar at Gray’s Inn.

Associations and memberships

Memberships: Criminal Bar Association Ex committee member of Bar Council Legal Services Committee Liberty