David Bentley QC


Year of Silk


Year of Call

David Bentley QC

David Bentley QC is a criminal defence specialist, whose practice encompasses a wide range of serious and complex crimes, including murder, terrorism, fraud, money laundering and sexual offences.


In addition to his trial work, he has an extensive appeals practice.


David has recognised expertise in dealing with DNA and other areas of forensic evidence.



What the guides say

 David is listed as a leading silk in Legal 500, and as a ranked QC in Chambers and Partners:

  • He remains calm in any storm and his judgement is always spot-on.’(Legal 500 2017)
  • long standing experience of handling leading cases...very good” (Chambers 2014).
  • commended for his “diligence and cleverness” (Legal 500 2013).
  • DNA evidence is his thing, and he has the ability to understand forensic stuff that is not easy" (Chambers 2014).
  • He has received judicial commendation for his “consummate advocacy.



Recent cases


  • ​​R v B - Targeted killing in notorious Moss Side area of Manchester. High profile murder case with defence based partially on complex DNA evidence from a knife abandoned at the scene indicating one of the fatal injuries may have been caused accidentally by an associate of the deceased.
  • R v H - Joint enterprise murder case. One of the first to be heard following the landmark Jogee decision in the Supreme Court. Allegation that victim was deliberately targeted and ambushed on his way home, following an earlier incident at the Notting Hill Carnival. Client (one of 3 on trial) was acquitted of murder, but convicted of manslaughter.
  • R v C - Highly challenging murder case, where young client had stabbed to death abusive ex partner of his mother. Wound was single blow to the heart with sufficient force to cut through a rib. Defence was one of accident in the course of using a martial arts move to disarm the victim – and involved complex forensic issues relating to the legitimacy of the technique, the amount of force needed, and whether pathologically credible. Jury unanimously acquitted client in half an hour.
  • R v D - Joint enterprise stabbing murder in South London. Teenage defendants and victim. Very difficult case involving issues of which of the two defendants caused the fatal wound, and a “cut throat” defence where each blamed the other. Client acquitted following third trial – the first having been aborted and the second having led to a hung jury.
  • R v Q - Fatal revenge attack involving group ambushing deceased. Trial commenced on joint enterprise murder allegation, but manslaughter plea negotiated on limited post –Jogee basis. No evidence offered on the murder, and acquittal directed.



Previous cases

David has defended in a number of complex and high-profile trials – including:

  • acting for a man accused of attempting to leave the UK to fight for ISIS,
  • representing a Mexican national in a  transgender escort murder case,
  • acting in a multi-handed joint enterprise murder arising outside a party,
  • representing a young man accused of being the lynch-pin in a “contract killing” conspiracy to murder,
  • acting for a client facing money-laundering charges in proceedings related to a recent landmark Supreme Court decision on definition of “criminal property”  
  • acting for a vulnerable deaf defendant in a complex multiple rape case.
  • acting for an accused in the Massereene Barracks shootings in Northern Ireland (and on his successful appeal),
  • securing an acquittal in a murder case founded on "unconvincing" hearsay evidence,
  • defending in a major animal rights "terrorism" case in Oxford,
  • acting for a doctor accused of perverting the course of justice following a tabloid "sting" operation
  • representing an IFA in a £12M "Ponzi" fraud.



DNA and other forensic evidence

David has developed a particular specialism in DNA cases, appearing in many of the leading trials and appeals in this controversial field. This too has been noted by commentators, who state that “DNA evidence is his thing, and he has the ability to understand forensic stuff that is not easy" (Chambers Guide 2014).


This expertise includes "low template" DNA and complex mixed profiles, and he has extensive experience working with some of the foremost forensic scientists in this field. He has  co-authored comprehensive articles on DNA law and practice published in The Archbold Review September 2012 and February 2011 and well-received features in the Law Society Gazette, 'DNA and case preparation' (January 2015) and 'DNA - an unstoppable march?' (March 2017). He was also interviewed by the BBC for their recent R4 documentary “Forensics in Crisis” and was quoted in a recent news story relating to DNA contamination fears in sex cases.


His forensic expertise extends to cases involving pathological and psychiatric issues. This has been deployed to successful effect in a recent “baby shaking” acquittal, and in an ongoing automatism defence. 




Potential miscarriages of justice are a particular area of interest, and he receives instructions on a referral basis on a range of serious cases – including being instructed to provide a second opinion, as assigned counsel by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals, and in cases involving referrals from the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).


He has several pending appeals. He is also advising on appeal in relation to a number of murder cases – some relating specifically to joint enterprise convictions based on the now discredited pre-Jogee foresight test and has recently authored an article on post- Jogee  joint enterprise appeals for the Law Society Gazette.



Direct access

David accepts both public and privately funded instructions, and is accredited with the Bar Council to accept "public access" (direct) instructions in appropriate cases.




He has co-presented (along with leading US DNA expert Professor Dan Krane) seminars at Doughty Street Chambers and in-house with leading solicitors on recent developments in DNA law and practice.


He was invited to speak at an international seminar at Cambridge University in August 2016 on the use of probability and statistics in criminal cases.


He has lectured on aspects of money laundering, and has contributed to the BBC’s "Law in Action". David provides training for a range of organisations including a leading media organisation (on crime-related media issues), the Criminal Cases Review Commission, Liberty and the DCA.


He has a keen interest in international legal issues, and in 2015 was invited by the Foreign Office to travel to Shanghai where he spoke at a UK-China seminar on UK criminal justice perspectives; also  travelling to Hong Kong in 2016.


In 2004 he travelled to Turkey on behalf of the Council of Europe and the Foreign Office where he provided training to local judges and prosecutors on the fair trial provisions of the ECHR.



Criminal Appeals

  • R v James and Karimi - provocation in murder; precedent between HL & Privy Council.
  • R v G - counsel's conduct of defence affecting safety of conviction.

Other recent appeals include:

  • R v Shivers [2013] - successful Northern Ireland conviction appeal from “Diplock” murder/terrorism trial.
  • R v MDS [2013] - successful murder appeal based on jury misdirection.
  • R v Yearwood [2011] - successful referral conviction appeal on issue of impartiality/jury composition. (Acquitted following retrial)
  • R v Zulhayir - appeal dealing with issues of jury notes, jury bias and article 6 ECHR right to fair trial by an impartial tribunal.
  • R v Whitehead - successful sentence appeal, with important guidance re applicability of sentencing guidelines in cases of major confidence fraud.
  • The landmark House of Lords decision R v Kennedy - unlawful act manslaughter & causation.
  • R v Powell (re competence of very young children to give evidence).
  • R v Atkinson (bad character).

Homicide and Related Grave Offences

  • R v Gomez [2015]– high-profile transgender murder
  • R v Ajufo [2015] – joint-enterprise stabbing
  • R v Joseph [2015] – joint-enterprise murder
  • R v Myers [2013] – conspiracy to murder
  • R v MDS [2012] - murder featuring complex DNA evidence
  • R v Thiam. Man accused of murdering brother.
  • R v Dos Santos. Murder featuring complex DNA evidence
  • R v Meek. The Cripps Corner contract killing.

The landmark House of Lords decision R v Kennedy - unlawful act manslaughter & causation.

Other Serious Criminal Offences

  • R v AK [2013] – multiple rape/assault/false imprisonment.
  • R v Erin - doctor accused of perverting the course of justice
  • R v Davis - multi-handed rape.
  • R v Nelson - conspiracy to supply class A drugs on a wholesale basis.
  • R v Bilton (and 10 others) - anti-fascist violent disorder allegation.
  • R v Burke - conspiracy to supply class A drugs (successful dismissal application).
  • R v Powell - blackmail and firearms offences against the QPR football chairman, Gianni Paladini.
  • R v Peach and Others - gold bullion scam with money stolen from comedian, Ricky Gervais.
  • R v Mentore - the "Prada gang" robberies.
  • R v Sagar - solicitor indicted for corrupt practices.
  • R v Gatsinzi and Others - described by the BBC as "the UK's biggest ever stolen car racket".
  • R v McLaughlan and Others - where he acted for the lead defendant in a major "ghost worker" fraud against the MOD at the Devonport nuclear submarine base.
  • R v Victor - campaign of rape and robbery.


  • R v Keeler [2015] – terrorism case related to ISIS
  • R v Green [2012] – bomb hoax central London siege.
  • R v Shivers and Duffy. "Terrorist" related shootings in Northern Ireland.
  • R v Broughton. Acted for leading animal rights activist on "terrorist" attacks against Oxford university.

Regulatory and Financial Crime

  • R v Lewis and others [2016] – money laundering case linked to landmark Supreme Court judgment
  • R v Whitehead - IFA involved in £12M pyramid fraud.
  • R v Anwoir and Others - £50M money-laundering scam.
  • R v Sophocleous - multi- £M VAT fraud.

Inquests & Public Inquiries

  • Re Colin Holt [2015] – death in custody case. 
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