Lee Karu QC


Lee is a highly experienced specialist criminal defence counsel. He has been practising for over 30 years and has built up a reputation and following amongst solicitors and lay clients alike such that he is instructed in serious criminal cases across the country. He is deeply passionate about his cases and is committed to achieving the best result for his clients. He has appeared in many serious and high profile cases from homicides and sexual cases to international financial crime.

Background and expertise

Lee began his career as a barrister practising general common law being instructed in civil, family and criminal cases. Within a short period he was committed to an exclusively criminal practice. He built a reputation as a hardworking and talented junior barrister and was instructed in many high profile and serious cases, becoming a regular at the Old Bailey.

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Notable cases

R v H, 2020

Defendant charged with murder. The defendant, a drug dealer, was accused of deliberately driving at, and killing, a customer. Following a 4 day trial the defendant was acquitted. Birmingham Crown Court.

News report here

R v M, 2019

Defendant charged with nine counts of stalking his previous barrister, psychiatrist who had treated him and found him to be a malingerer, headmaster of his old school, and others against whom he had a grudge. Silk was granted on the basis of sensitive cross-examination of professionals. This was a very tricky case, representing someone who clearly had mental health issues which the professionals could not identify though agreed that this was a personality disorder. Stalking not being defined by the act, this case was very much one for the jury. Snaresbrook Crown Court.

R v L and others, 2019

Case of modern-day slavery. All defendants were a Romanian family recruiting jobless men and women from Romanian villages. The complainants were promised transport, accommodation and jobs for a good wage. The reality was that they found themselves in houses where they were tightly packed in poor conditions with very poor pay. Six week case – one of the most serious cases of its type. Blackfriars Crown Court.

News report here

R v G, 2018

G was a very young county lines drugs dealer as were some of the co-defendants. Execution of a rival who had stolen drugs. The attack was in broad daylight in a public place. Frenzied knife attack by three or more. Twenty four stab wounds, causing death at the scene. Complicated cut-throat defence. Vast amount of telephone and CCTV evidence. Cross examination of pathologist. Victim aged 25. All four defendants and prosecution represented by silks and juniors. Winchester Crown Court

R v B, 2018

Attempted Murder. Following an argument in a public house the defendant was thrown out and beaten up. He left the scene in his car and soon returned and drove into a crowd of people standing outside the pub. Charged with 7 counts of attempted murder. He was unable to recall the incident in interview. Mental health issues following an attack on him when trying to stop a robbery. Canterbury Crown Court.

R v P, 2018

P was a loner and heavily autistic. He formed a fascination for violent video games. Over a two year period he wrote threatening letters to leading politicians, including the Prime Minister. He then progressed to sending letters containing threats and various powders, causing maximum distress. Later he sent letters inciting murder and other violent acts towards Muslims. Charged in an indictment containing 22 counts, later reduced to 15 following discussion with prosecution. Mental health issues were at the forefront of this case. The case was investigated by the Anti-Terrorist Squad. Central Criminal Court

R v S, 2018

The defendant was charged with causing GBH with intent on his wife. Described as a chronic alcoholic, had been violent to his wife over a period of time. The final assault caused her to have a broken spine, amongst other injuries. Previous history of violence was of importance along with his habit for being intoxicated and being under the influence of drugs. Chester Crown Court.

R v B, 2016

Case concerned a female security guard whilst assisting prisoners to be transported from court was attacked by the defendant and killed by a single kick to the head. He was charged with murder and was disposed by way of hospital order.

Central Criminal Court.

R v A, 2015

Rochdale sexual offences and grooming case involving nine men accused of raping girls under the age of fifteen. The complainants, from difficult backgrounds, were groomed and used for sex.

Liverpool Crown Court

Read more Notable cases

Sexual crime

R v V and Others

The Oxford Grooming Case. Girls as young as 13.

R v S and others

Girls as young as 12 were groomed by a group of older men in West Yorkshire. They were abused systematically for years. This was a very high profile case which was reported in most of the national press.

Read more Sexual crime

Robberies and burglaries

R v B

Highly publicised case of aggravated burglary labelled by the media as the first million-pound burglar who raided high value houses.

R v S & others

Defendant charged with armed robberies of banks and building societies over a 5-year period.

Read more Robberies and burglaries

Other violent crime

R v O & others

GBH of a young father who lost his sight as a result of the attack.

R v B & others

Murder of a young Pakistani bride by her husband and a follow-on trial of the family for neglect of a vulnerable adult – the first case of its kind under s. 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.


R v A & others

Operation Central around Sheffield involving supply of large quantities of heroin.

R v O.R. & others

London based gang supplying to suburbs of London and surrounding cities.

R v W & others

High level production of Class B (amphetamines), £10 million confiscation.

R v L.P. & others

Series of cannabis factories around the country, money laundered through takeaway restaurants and nail bars across the country. Reported as the highest value cannabis production in the UK.

R v B & others

Columbian gang smuggling vast quantities of cocaine.

Financial Crime

R v K & others

Large scale mortgage fraud and money laundering resulting from self-certification. Successful defence based on banks knowingly accepting false self-certifications.

R v A & others

Fraudulently changing ownership details at the Land Registry, then re-mortgaging the houses without the knowledge of the householders, thereafter converting the proceeds into gold bullion (never recovered).

Read more Financial Crime


R v W & others

Leading case on the subject of ‘hidden assets’.

R v K

Recent case in which the Crown claimed £1.5 million resulting in a confiscation order of £1.

International cases

R v B & others

A massive drugs conspiracy that was observed from Columbia to the West Indies to Spain then through Europe before ending in the UK. Covert surveillance was carried out in different parts of the world by different police forces. It was necessary to call expert evidence as to law and procedures relating to Swiss law.

R v C

200kgs of heroin was uplifted connected to other imports of similar magnitude. The defendant was said to be a prominent political figure in the PKK and raising money through large scale drugs trafficking. This case entailed research into the position of Kurds in the Middle East, in particular Turkey, and the political implications thereof.

Read more International cases

International Financial Crime

R v N & Others

International cyber credit card fraud involving the Dark Market, investigated by the FBI.

R v K & Others

Bollywood film producers fraudulently claiming film tax relief and VAT.

Read more International Financial Crime

Professional Commentary and Attribution

"He defends in drug and violence cases" (Legal 500 - 2020)
"He defends in murder and multi-defendant sexual abuse cases" (Legal 500, 2017)

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Legal 500, 2022 Chambers UK, 2022

Year called






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Confiscation / POCA

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Financial Crime

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Fraud, Bribery & Corruption

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Serious Crime

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Sexual offences

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