Nicola Shannon


Year of Call: 1997

Practice Group(s): Crime, Public & Regulatory

Portrait of Nicola Shannon

Recorder (Crime) with authorisation to try Serious Sexual Offences (Appointed 2016)

MA History and Law: Selwyn College, Cambridge.
Astbury Scholar, Middle Temple.

Practice Profile:
Crime and Regulatory Crime.

Nicola Shannon is regularly instructed as Leading Junior, either Defending or when Prosecuting on behalf of both the CPS and Local Authorities.

Her practice is focused on Serious and Complex Crime, including cases of serious violence, kidnap and false imprisonment, firearms, drugs, sexual offences, fraud and dishonesty, and terrorism. Fraud work has included defending in international organized crime cases and prosecuting multi-handed high value benefit fraud.

A highly skilled advocate, she is also valued for her expertise in dealing with complex points of law in both general crime and related regulatory matters. She is further sought for her calm and insightful approach to case tactics and preparation and her extensive experience with vulnerable witnesses.

Nicola has experience in criminal courts at all levels, including the House of Lords (Junior counsel to Ivan Krolick in the leading case of R v Saik (2006) UKHL 18 re. offences of money-laundering), and she has previously been instructed in relation to a Privy Council appeal from a disciplinary finding by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

Serious and Organised Crime:

Nicola prosecutes at Grade 4 (the highest non-QC grading) on the Serious Crime Group panel, and is often against Silks instructed for the Defence. Prosecution work has included child cruelty (unexplained multiple fractures in a non-ambulant infant), alleged sex trafficking and offences connected with the Supply of Class A drugs and other organised criminal activity.

In 2016 - 2017, Nicola led Natasha Dardashti in two trials in which they prosecuted the leaders of the most significant drugs supply lines in Sussex for offences arising out of a strategic firearms incident involving the false imprisonment, robbery and torture of two young Kurdish men over a period of 6 hours (Op. Kelvin). One sustained life-threatening injuries and both suffered significant trauma as a result of the ordeal. Complex telephone cell-site, DNA and identification evidence was deployed to secure the conviction of all five defendants. Evidence was also secured from abroad via cooperation with the local Liaison Magistrate and International Letters of Request. Sentences imposed ranged from 10 to 22 years.

Nicola is currently instructed to prosecute a Conspiracy relating to the taking of prohibited items into prison for the purpose of dealing in psychoactive substances ('Spice'). Another case relates to the supply of drugs immediately prior to the death of the victim who fell out of a window at a party having ingested class A drugs. The criminal prosecution follows on from an Inquest in the Coroner's Court.

In her defence work, Nicola is experienced in dealing with International Crime as well as defendants and witnesses from diverse cultures. She was Junior counsel in a Counter-Terrorism case in which detailed submissions were made as to the various meanings of 'jihad' in Islamic teaching and culture, securing a partial acquittal. A Sikh ‘Minister of Religion’ fraud case involved expert evidence on the status of religious lay workers within Sikh mission and ministry.

Modern Slavery:

Nicola was one of the first barristers to develop expertise in the law of modern slavery, having been instructed to represent Irish Travellers charged with offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced Labour under s71 Coroners and Justice Act 2009 (the forerunner to the Modern Slavery Act 2015) during the first series of trials under the Act.

Nicola led Ross Talbott in the first trial under this new legislation at Luton Crown Court in Summer 2012. Nicola then went on to appear as Junior counsel in a similar case at Bristol Crown Court beginning in September 2012. In the former her client was the only defendant acquitted and in the latter her client was acquitted of Conspiracy to Hold Another in Servitude and his sentence following conviction for the lesser charge of Forced Labour was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General as being 'unduly lenient' (A.G.'s Ref. No.4 of 2013). Nicola successfully defended it before the full court.


More recently her defence practice has included appearing as Leading counsel in a multi-million pound money laundering/ drugs importation case prosecuted at Maidstone Crown Court by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Op.s Synthetic and Viracocha). The trial culminated in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings in which the prosecution sought confiscation orders valued at £138Million.

Nicola has also defended in a sophisticated immigration fraud involving Sikh 'Minister of Religion' visas provided by a bogus charity bringing in workers for Sikh temples from Sri Lanka under a new scheme conferring 'A' – rated Sponsor status. The indictment alleged frauds against both the Home Office and the Charity Commission. Nicola's client was acquitted following submissions at the close of the Prosecution case.


Nicola has recently been appointed to the new Counter-Terrorism specialist panel at Grade 4 (the highest non- Silk grading).

Serious Sexual Offences:

As a member of the RASSO panel for prosecuting Serious Sexual Offences Nicola has undertaken extensive training in dealing with vulnerable witnesses and has frequently used intermediaries when both prosecuting and defending. She is authorised to judge such cases when sitting as a Crown Court Recorder. Prosecuting, cases often involve an international element: sex-trafficking to the UK in one case; luring a teenager abroad with the promise of legitimate employment before attempting to pay for sexual services in another.

As defence counsel she has often been selected to represent young people charged with serious sexual offending, including stranger rape of an adult by a 14 year old with learning difficulties, and the possession of indecent images of children and Incitement to sexual activity by an immature young adult with multiple vulnerabilities. In the latter case, following a negotiated plea, and adducing expert medical and psychological evidence, she secured a suspended sentence for her client.

Sitting as a Recorder, she has overseen adjustments to the trial process to facilitate the effective participation of mentally disordered defendants and witnesses and jurors with special needs.

Regulatory Crime:

Nicola is also instructed in Regulatory crime, including infringement of Trade Marks (with particular experience in software cases), Environmental Protection Act matters and Licensing.

Proceeds of Crime:

Experienced in Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings and Confiscation following trial.
Nicola undertakes review of Confiscation on private instruction.

South Eastern Circuit (Recorder of the Circuit 2017 – 19; Junior of the Circuit 2007); SEC Wellbeing at the Bar Group.
Criminal Bar Association.
Middle Temple
Temple Women's Forum

French (Niveau du Cadre Europeen B2)

Theatre, music, theology and art. Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.