Profile image of David Comb
David Comb
Call 2005
Specialisms: Regulatory, Licensing, Crime, Administrative and Public
David Comb CV
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Contact

Tel: 0191 232 1927


Email

d.comb@trinitychambers.co.uk

David Comb


David has recently acted or currently holds instructions in some of the most serious and high-profile criminal prosecutions in the North East of England. He specialises in trial and appellate advocacy, especially the more difficult cases involving factual complexity, legal novelty or particularly vulnerable individuals.

He has an extensive track record of representing public bodies, public officials and professionals involving breach of regulatory obligations, whether in the High Court, Coroner’s Court or in specialist Tribunals.

SPECIALISMS 

Complex Casework and Organised Crime

Operation Seabrook
Together with Caroline Goodwin QC, defended a retired prison officer, alleged to have participated in widespread institutional abuse at Medomsley Detention Centre. The case had been launched by means of a national media blitz, allied with class action claims for financial compensation. These features, together with the criminal history of the complainants, gave rise to a disclosure process of exceptional breadth and complexity, especially in the area of legal professional privilege. The case also gave rise to an important legal issue about the propriety of charging misconduct in public office as an umbrella for a series of offences which otherwise would have been time barred.


Operation Sanctuary/Operation Shelter

Leading junior in the highly publicised prosecution for organised sexual exploitation in Newcastle upon Tyne. Secured an acquittal in relation to the principal charge of conspiracy to incite prostitution after a complex series of trials, including the voire dire involving the role of notorious police informant ‘XY’. (You can read about the proceedings here).

Operation Emerald
Acting again as a leading junior in a trial involving allegations of conspiracy to supply heroin and conspiracy to supply crack cocaine in the Newcastle and Middlesbrough areas. Another case involving the activities of informant ‘XY’, the proceedings had involved a complex, proactive police investigation.

Operation Jotter
Successfully obtained judge directed verdicts of not guilty, on two charges of conspiracy to supply drugs. This followed a submission of ‘no case to answer’ where the evidence did not disclose a common agreement or purpose, irrespective of the evidence that the defendant may have been involved in the supply of controlled substances.

R v Bellerby
Secured not guilty verdicts after trial on firearms and robbery charges, for the lead defendant alleged to have embarked on a gangland spree of shootings.

Operation Gunnell
Prosecuting, alone, a series of cross-border conspiracies to defraud, commonly known as vishing frauds. Hundreds of thousands of pounds had been inveigled from corporations and individuals, which were then funnelled through a complex series of bank accounts and then realised in cash.

Operation Bolt
Led junior in a prosecution involving the wholesale supply of cocaine, with a street value of hundreds of thousands of pounds, across the Pennines into Newcastle upon Tyne from Liverpool. Subsequently, took sole charge of the confiscation proceedings against multiple defendants, involving substantial assets and issues concerning protected third party equitable interests.

Operation Oceanic
Prosecuting a case of conspiracy to supply cocaine, arising from a complex, proactive investigation into the trans-Pennine trafficking of drugs.

Coronial Law and Inquests

David currently holds instructions in relation to Coroner’s Court proceedings of exceptional complexity and involving numerous properly interested parties (PIPs). He represents the employee of a public health trust, in a case involving complex factual issues of virology, medical negligence, and systems management. He has appeared at inquests where death has been occasioned in a manner simultaneously engaging criminal responsibility or otherwise touching upon the criminal justice system.

Murder and Homicide

R v Paul Johnston
Together with John Elvidge QC, secured the defendant’s acquittal by a jury on charges of robbery, murder and manslaughter, in circumstances where the defendant admitted causing his best friend’s death by strangulation, forcing entry to a safe, and the prosecution led evidence that the defendant’s own injuries were self inflicted.

R v Dixon, Histon and Annis
Together with Toby Hedworth QC and Tom Mitchell, secured the acquittal on a charge of murder (guilty of manslaughter only), for a defendant alleged to have participated in a joint enterprise attack.

R v Saunders
Prosecuting a murder, in which the defendant was convicted of stalking down and stabbed to death his love rival. (You can read about the proceedings here).

R v Watson and Hills
Successful prosecution of two men who set about and then beat to death their associate at a drug fuelled party.

R v Emmonds
Led junior, acting on behalf of a female who had stabbed to death the partner of her son. The case involved contentious psychiatric evidence relating to the partial defences of both diminished responsibility and loss of control. (You can read about the proceedings here).

R v Lyst
Defending, alone, a fatal road traffic evidence which turned on a battle of experts giving evidence relating to fields of vision and stopping speeds.

Serious Sexual Offences


R v Kedana

Successfully secured the acquittal of a non-UK citizen and refugee, alleged to have raped a woman he had met at a nightclub.

R v Abdirizak
The leading case, heard by Langstaff J at Newcastle Crown Court, involving so called internet vigilantes and their efforts to detect online child sexual exploitation. The case broke new ground on the understanding of entrapment in the internet age, as well as the authorisation process for covert human intelligence sources under RIPA.

R v Ali
A Saudi Arabian citizen, who was detained in a secure psychiatric facility under the Mental Health Act and alleged to have sexually assaulted a nurse. Successfully secured his acquittal by a jury.

R v Loco
Successfully defended an alleged case of child sexual exploitation, made especially difficult where the defendant was a non-United Kingdom citizen and the complainant was a school child

R v Latimer
Successfully prosecuted a case involving a campaign of violent rapes perpetrated by the defendant against his violent partner.

R v Wheater
Successfully defended series of historic charges of sexual abuse.

R v Falconer
Successfully prosecuted a man for historic offences of sexual assault committed against children.

Appellate Work and Judicial Review


R v Pringle [2019] EWCA Crim 1722
Represented a vulnerable young adult in the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division), where a conviction for offences of child abduction were quashed as unsafe. The case provided important guidance on when intermediaries are required for a vulnerable defendant, what steps should be taken to mitigate unfairness when no intermediary is available and how questioning should be approached by advocates. The Court also considered the legal status and effect of a child abduction warning warning notice (CAWN) and the legal definition of abduction.

R v Mitchell [2014] 2 Cr App R 2; [2014] EWCA Crim 318
Successfully overturned a ruling that a paramedic held public office within the meaning of the common law offence. Appearing alone, against leading and junior counsel for the Crown, the argument ranged across the history of the offence, the growth of public sector functions in the twentieth century and the compatibility of the offence with Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

R v Ryal
Appealing against conviction for sexual offences against multiple complainants, on the ground of incorrect cross admissibility of complaints and in particular the issue of cross-contamination of complaints.

R v Burnett [2016] EWCA Crim 1941
Appeared on behalf of the appellant in case involving historical allegations of buggery and indecency in an Approved School. The appeal raised issues relating to the cross admissibility of complaints as bad character evidence; the relevance of intervening neuro-psychiatric injury to the issue of adverse inferences under s35 CJPOA; the relevance and weight of non-defendant bad character; and the appropriateness of a lies direction in relation to interview.

R v Smith
Appeared on behalf of the prosecution on an appeal brought under section 72 of the Proceeds of Crime Act. The case involved the question of time limits under section 14 of the Act and the relationship of the time limit to the court’s statutory jurisdiction to make a confiscation order.

R v Denholm
Successfully overturned a conviction for assault occasioning actual bodily harm, involving an episode of spontaneous street violence in which the trial judge declined to leave self defence to the jury as a reasonable possibility on the totality of the evidence.

R v Sim [2012] EWCA Crim 2067
Appointed directly by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals, post-conviction, in a fatal road traffic case where an issue of fact had arisen as to the effect of expert evidence received at first instance.

R v Martin
Appeared in the Court of Appeal, challenging a conviction for burglary on the grounds of misdirection to the jury about the defendant’s exercise of right to silence to during police interview.

R (ex parte S) v DPP (26th November 2015)
Judicial review proceedings brought on behalf of a child aged under 13, alleged to have raped another child aged under 13. The issue was the non-availability of the defence of consent and the compatibility of the charging decision with S’s right to private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

R (ex parte XY) v DPP and the Crown Court Sitting at Newcastle upon Tyne [2016] EWHC 1872
Written submissions to the High Court on behalf an interested party (a defendant) in relation to the attempt made by XY to challenge the decision to disclose his identity into the criminal proceedings brought as a result of Operation Shelter and Operation Emerald. The particular issues were the amenability of a Crown Court decision on Indictment to order disclosure, as well as the protected human rights of XY.

R (SD) v Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police [2015] EWHC 2085
Appeared in the High Court on a claim for judicial review brought by a teacher in further education, against a decision to include on an enhanced criminal record certificate, details of unproven sexual misconduct and which engaged SD’s right to private life guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

R v Black and Black [2016] EWCA Crim 1941
Appeal against sentence for offences of handling stolen goods, relevance of previous convictions, applicability of sentencing guideline.

R v Strong [2014] EWCA Crim 2744
Successful appeal against sentence in a case involving abuse of elderly care home patients.

APPOINTMENTS & MEMBERSHIPS

  • Crown Prosecution Service Panel Advocate Grade 4 
  • Crown Prosecution Service Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Panel
  • Criminal Bar Association
  • North Eastern Circuit
  • Administrative Law Bar Association
  • Liberty
  • Association of Regulatory and Disciplinary Lawyers

EDUCATION & AWARDS

  • LLB (Hons) 
  • University of Sheffield
  • Dubb Lipton Allsopp Award 
  • Inner Temple Duke of Edinburgh Award
  • Inner Temple Exhibitioner
  • Inner Temple Intern Scholarship

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION  

David undertook an Internship at the Louisiana Capital Assistance Centre (New Orleans) working on death penalty cases and the cases of British citizens incarcerated at the Guantanamo Bay military facility. David was the winner of the Inner Temple Inter-Varsity Mooting Competition and Telders Public International Law Mooting Competition (English round), in successive years. He appeared at the International Court of Justice on behalf of English Universities.

David is able to receive instructions direct from the public or businesses through the Bar’s public access scheme.