Crime: general in East Anglia


Based in Norwich, Belmores is a leading specialist criminal law firm that handles a diverse caseload for clients both regionally and nationally. Dave Foulkes and Simon Nicholls deal with both Legal Aid and privately funded cases, among which are high-profile matters ranging from motoring offences to robbery, drugs offences and murder. Nicholls frequently acts for media celebrities and football players in motoring matters in London courts.

Practice head(s):

Simon Nicholls

Other key lawyers:

Dave Foulkes

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has a barrister-led practice, giving it unique advocacy expertise in serious criminal matters. It excels in areas such as financial crime investigations and frequently acts for companies and individuals prosecuted nationwide by CPS, HSE, local authorities, RSPCA, DVSA, the FSA and Environment Agency. Barrister Matthew Gowen leads the practice from Ipswich. Senior associates Philippa Dyer in Ipswich and Julie Gowland in Norwich also handle criminal and regulatory matters. Former partner Laura Thomas left for a non-legal role but the firm hired senior associate and barrister Daniel Irving from Blackfriars Chambers to work in the Ipswich office.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Gowen

Key clients

Petrogas Group UK Ltd

Work highlights

  • Advised Petrogas Group UK Ltd on a health and safety-related investigation.


Fosters in Norwich 'demonstrates the highest levels of professionalism yet with sympathy and empathy'. 'I really felt they were on my side and devoted to my cause,' remarks one clients. Handling high-profile and complex cases such as historic allegations of rape and county lines drug conspiracies, as well as minor crimes, the firm has established itself as a leading firm in Norfolk and beyond. 'Persistent and diligent' practice head Chris Brown and Higher Court Advocate Damien Moore are the lead partners.

Practice head(s):

Chris Brown

Other key lawyers:

Damien Moore


I spoke to a number of different firms before choosing Fosters. What led me to go with Fosters in the end was that the firm demonstrated the highest levels of professionalism yet with sympathy and empathy. Everyone at the firm that I dealt with was professional, interested and compassionate. I really felt they were on my side and devoted to my cause.

They supported me in my barrister options and choices. They vetted the barristers I was keen on and in the end I felt the decision taken on the barrister was one that was mutually agreed by myself and them.

All members of my team were good-humoured and likeable which was a major factor.

Chris Brown was both persistent and diligent in the way he approached my case. His approach was consistently thorough whether it was analysing facts, discussing angles and factors for consideration or just general observations on the case. I always felt that he would do everything he could to fight my cause within the realms of the law. He didn’t take things lightly or express flippancy at any stage and worked methodically with my barrister to achieve the final outcome of not guilty of all offences.

Having had no previous experience of defence firms and limited experience of legal firms in general, they guided me through the path of the complex English legal system with diligence and professionalism.

Gotelee Solicitors

Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich provides a comprehensive range of services in criminal law, ranging from the defence of minor and major crimes to a niche service advising victims of crime. The practice is praised for having 'complete respect for its clients, treating them with discretion and confidence'. Practice head Hugh Rowland is 'a stellar all-round performer - highly intelligent, measured yet decisive'. Higher Courts Advocate Howard Catherall stands out for private client crime matters for clients in the logistics sector.

Practice head(s):

Hugh Rowland

Other key lawyers:

Howard Catherall


The firm has complete respect for its clients. They are non-judgemental towards them. The team members I met would always treat you with discretion and confidence and confidentiality was always used.

Hugh Rowland is an exceptional listener and looks at all sides of an argument. He has deep respect and gives clear leadership in any circumstance. Hugh always made me see the best direction to go in and gave reasons why. He also gave me support which enabled me to see the way forward and gave me the courage to make decisions I had to make.

Hugh Rowland’s administrative team were always sensitive and respectful and stepped in whenever Hugh was unavailable. They worked together brilliantly.

I instructed partner Howard Catherall last year on an alleged road traffic offence. He provided sensible, timely and accurate advice on procedure and strategy on the basis of which I chose to represent myself in court – thus saving a significant amount in fees.

I have worked with partner Hugh Rowland several times in relation to local government prosecutions for Tree Preservation Order offences. He is a stellar all-round performer. Highly intelligent, measured yet decisive, robustly active on behalf of clients and unmatched liaison with expert witnesses combine with faultless grasp of detail, law and process.

The practice shows knowledge, expertise, thoughtfulness, and attention to detail. Hugh Rowland is without any doubt one of the very best solicitors in the regulatory-criminal sphere I have had the privilege of receiving instructions from.

Hunt & Coombs LLP

The 'very efficient and dedicated team' at Hunt & Coombs LLP in Peterborough frequently defends complex crimes including murder, corporate manslaughter, people trafficking and rape. 'They are leaders in crime for the Cambridgeshire area and well respected from the Youth Court to the Crown Court,' remarks a barrister. Simon Milburn has expertise in prison law, representing prisoners through the parole process. Andrew Cave 'displays judgement, humanity and realism with a strong work ethic'. He and Richard Boucher have niche expertise in mental health law.

Practice head(s):

Simon Milburn;  Andrew Cave

Other key lawyers:

Richard Boucher


Very efficient and dedicated team. All team members coordinate very well to ensure excellent service.

They are all approachable and very professional. They make you feel comfortable and take a keen interest in what you have to say. The services I get are unique and personalised.

Hunt & Coombs retains the feel of a boutique law firm with the work ethic and resources of a much larger firm. They are a joy to work for – each case comes with a detailed brief to counsel with helpful analysis and background information allowing counsel to hit the ground running.

Each member of the criminal team is a strong player and proactive in their approach to cases. They are leaders in crime for the Cambridgeshire area and well respected from the Youth Court to the Crown Court. They have a strong database of contacts ensuring that if a listing needs [to be] moved, a private investigator needs to be instructed or an intermediary is required they can action any matters quickly and effectively.

The criminal team, headed by Andy Cave, is one of the strongest I have worked with displaying judgement, humanity and realism with a strong work ethic. The linked mental health team means they are particularly good at dealing with cases involving young, vulnerable defendants and those with mental health issues.

Glenda Hair, the Criminal Law Clerk, is a powerhouse of efficiency and judgement. She is well known and respected at the local courts and able to charm the list office, CPS and court staff where needed. Clients like her sensible, realistic approach and for counsel her organisational skills are second to none.

Hunt & Coombs does mostly legal aid criminal work, but also some private criminal work. They are much more conscientious and are willing to put more work in than most legal aid crime solicitors. The clients get a good “no nonsense” service, with realistic advice and dedication to pursuing anything that might help their cases.

Simon Milburn is an excellent solicitor who is always on top of the cases, giving good but realistic advice.

Glenda Hair, the crime legal executive, is a legend in her local courts. She gives the clients an excellent service – even down to sorting out which judge they are sentenced by where they are regular enough offenders to have a preference. She pursues all aspects of their cases with vigour. For counsel, she is a great person to work with, bringing her huge experience and ferocious efficiency to bear on every case, no matter how serious or trivial.

I can only comment on the service received from Andy Cave, which was highly professional and effective.

Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar

Metcalfe, Copeman & Pettefar is a heavyweight criminal law practice in East Anglia and the dominant practice in West Norfolk. It has a Large Criminal Contract with the Legal Aid Agency and also handles privately funded defence work. In King's Lynn, Alison Muir and head of police station investigations Nigel Taylor are the lead partners. Muir has dealt exclusively with criminal law for 25 years and is a Higher Court Advocate who handles both criminal defence and prosecution work. Head of prison law Julie Massen is the key contact in Wisbech.

Practice head(s):

Alison Muir

Other key lawyers:

Nigel Taylor; Julie Massen

Work highlights

  • Representing a male charged with many sexual offences including several charges of rape of a vulnerable female.
  • Representing a vulnerable young client who became embroiled in a county lines multi-handed drugs conspiracy.
  • Representing one of several clients charged with a conspiracy to murder.

Greenwoods GRM

Greenwoods GRM in Peterborough has a regulatory practice that handles corporate defence work, notably in the hospitality, SME manufacturing and construction sectors. The firm also has a growing workload of property guardianship cases, with Kirstie Goulder issuing possession proceedings against guardians. Practice head Kathryn Gilbertson is a leading adviser to national and international companies on corporate criminal proceedings, statutory compliance and corporate governance.

Practice head(s):

Kathryn Gilbertson

Other key lawyers:

Kirstie Goulder

Key clients

Royal Society for Public Health

Crown Golf Operations Ltd

Bird College

Dacorum Council

Assurity Consulting

Total Produce

Work highlights

  • Defence of Crown Golf Operations Limited in criminal proceedings following the UK’s third-largest food poisoning outbreak in 2017.
  • Instructed to prosecute Tesco Stores Limited by Paul O’Day, authorised inspector for health and safety at Dacorum Council, following a major accident at the Tesco Store Jarman Way.
  • Prosecution of a property guardian provider company for conditions found on inspection of the Old Rectory, Colchester.