Sean Sullivan


Sean is an experienced, calm and focused barrister who both prosecutes and defends allegations of serious crime. He prepares his cases with great care, gives insightful advice and is a convincing jury advocate.

Background and expertise

Sean regularly handles allegations of murder, rape, serious organised crime and serious financial crime.


R v R, 2021

Defending the alleged hitman in an 11 week, eight defendant murder trial involving the killing of an innocent bystander after a drive-by shooting. Led by Peter Glenser QC. Preston Crown Court.

R v B, 2021

Defending an allegation of causing death by careless driving. 

R v S, 2020

Defending in a five-handed murder trial - led by Anthony Berry QC.

R v M, 2020

Successful murder prosecution at the Central Criminal Court after a fatal stabbing at East Croydon Station. Led by Peter Glenser QC.

News report here.

R v P, 2019

Allegation of attempted murder. Sean prosecuted a son who set fire to his disabled mother after dousing her in white spirit. Eventually pleaded as a s.18 GBH and arson with intent. Assisted Judge with detailed sentencing note that resulted in defendant being found to be dangerous and receiving a 21 year sentence.

News report here

R v J, 2018

Defending an allegation of attempted murder. The complainant was stabbed seven times to the chest and identified his lodger, the defendant, as his attacker. Sean challenged the complainant’s credibility and asserted his identification was wrong. The defendant was acquitted.

R v E, 2018

8 defendants aged between 14-16 accused of attempted murder and wounding with intent in two knife attacks in East London. Acting as prosecution junior during five week trial. Dealt with bad character applications and two day sentencing hearing - both complicated by the age of the defendants all of whom were convicted.

News story here

R v O, 2017

Defending an attempted murder allegation deriving from a group knife attack in a night club. Sean ran a series of legal arguments as to the admissibility of forensic and medical evidence that ensured that in due course the prosecution offered no evidence on the attempted murder and accepted a plea to ABH with the defendant receiving a non-custodial sentence.

R v S, 2016

Charged with murder, Smith was the only one of five defendants to be acquitted after a five-week trial. Sean’s cross-examination of the prosecution’s cell site expert helped undermine the prosecution's case. Earlier, in the Divisional Court, Sean had successfully challenged a decision to refuse bail. Led by Justin Rouse QC.


Financial regulation project, (2020-2021)

Assisting a financial organisation engaged in global trading with financial crime compliance.

R v K, 2020

Prosecuting a trial where the defendant was charged with the illegal import and export of critically endangered European eels. Sean, led by Peter Glenser QC, was instructed by the CPS Specialist Fraud Division after an investigation conducted by the National Crime Agency. European eels are considered so endangered that they are subject to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and there is a strict prohibition on exporting them to outside of the European Union. The offences spanned a two year period and involved 16 prohibited exports consisting of over 5 million elvers with an eventual retail value in the Far East of over £53 million. The defendant was found guilty of all offences. Southwark Crown Court.

See report here

Financial conduct/regulation project

Sean worked as part of a team of barristers, assisting a leading global bank with its regulatory obligations. He worked directly with bankers and executives to help them meet standards in relation to “know your client” and anti-money laundering requirements. During the project Sean worked from London, Geneva and Monte Carlo.

R v L, 2018

Sean successfully prosecuted a defendant responsible for the illegal importation of rare bird eggs into the UK in contravention of smuggling the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997 (CITES).


R v B, (ongoing)

Defending a man accused of multiple rapes, people trafficking and conspiracy to cause prostitution due to be tried over four weeks at Birmingham Crown Court in 2022.

R v J, 2020

Defending a man accused of rape and attempted rape of the same complainant after supplying the complainant with drugs. The defendant was found to be Not Guilty on both counts. 

R v D, 2020

Defending a young man accused of rape where a co-defendant was running a cut-throat defence. Sean persuaded the prosecution that the evidence was such that it was appropriate that they should offer no evidence against his client resulting in a not guilty verdict.

R v B, 2019

Sean represented a delivery driver accused of picking up a vulnerable child and raping her after a day of driving her around. He was also charged with a modern slavery offence in relation to transporting her. The trial involved careful cross-examination of a vulnerable and young witness. The defendant was acquitted of modern slavery and convicted of rape. Birmingham Crown Court.

News report here

R v FGF, 2018

Sean defended a university student accused of rape whose DNA was found on a swab of the higher vagina. The defendant insisted he had never penetrated the complainant. Sean challenged the forensic evidence and suggested a risk of contamination due to not following the correct procedure. The defendant was acquitted.


R v Z, 2019

Defending a businessman accused of tying up complainant, holding him hostage, beating him and threatening to kill him. The complainant was discovered bound and bloodied by police. The defence was that he had agreed to be tied up and had set the defendant up. Advancing that defence involved a full on attack on the defendant’s character in cross-examination over three days. Defendant was acquitted on all counts. Manchester Crown Court.

R v W, 2019

Sean defended a young man accused of kidnapping the complainant whilst armed with a gun. The credibility of the complainant was forcefully challenged and the jury acquitted the defendant.


R v MDK and others, (ongoing)

Prosecuting over twenty defendants who are alleged to be part of an organised crime group involved in the supply of drugs, the possession of firearms with an intent to endanger life and an attack on the police in an attempt to regain drugs and firearms previously seized. The defendants will be tried across four trials taking place over five months at Birmingham Crown Court in 2022. Led by Peter Glenser QC.

R v GP, 2019

Sean defended a young man accused of being concerned in a massive conspiracy to supply cocaine. After carefully analysing the evidence Sean was able to persuade the prosecution that they had mistakenly identified the defendant as part of the conspiracy when he was in fact a low level supplier of cannabis working alone. A potential sentence of many years was avoided and the defendant received a suspended sentence.

R v P, 2017

Sean represented three defendants accused of conspiring to supply cocaine. Sean ran legal arguments at an early stage that led to the prosecution dropping the allegation against two of the defendants; then further legal arguments at trial in relation to non-disclosure that led to the prosecution offering no evidence against the third.

Professional Commentary and Attribution

‘Unafraid, and this shows in his approach to situations.’ (Legal 500, 2018)
"He sees the wood from the trees" (Legal 500 -2020)
"His easy-going manner belies the quality of his advocacy, both oral and written." (Legal 500, 2017)
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PROFILE: Sean Sullivan

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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Youth Crime

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Youth Crime


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Regulatory / Disciplinary

Financial and Corporate law

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VAT Tribunals


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Road Traffic

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Road traffic

Direct access



020 7489 2727


BA Jurisprudence, St. Edmund Hall, University of Oxford.


Inner Temple


CPS Panel (Grade 4)


Serious Fraud Panel (A)

Accredited pupil supervisor

Accredited to deal with vulnerable witnesses

Fee-paid Judge of the Employment Tribunals (England & Wales)


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