Sam is a specialist criminal barrister, instructed for both prosecution and defence. His practice is focused on serious and complex cases, usually involving violence, weapons, drugs, and fraud. He is a Level 3 CPS Advocate Panel member, and is on the Specialist Serious Crime, Fraud, and POCA Panels at Level 2.
As a committed advocate, Sam places great emphasis on thorough preparation and engaging with the real issues in a case, allowing for first-class advocacy before judge or jury. Formerly an IT developer, Sam is at ease conducting cases involving digital evidence. He draws on his experience to quickly analyse and present high-volumes of complex information. He has dealt with numerous cases involving vulnerable witnesses and defendants, including the use of section 28 pre-recorded cross-examination and intermediaries.
Recent instructions have included:
- Acting as sole and led junior in several EncroChat drugs cases, including a seven-handed conspiracy to supply cocaine
- Sole junior in a three-handed conspiracy to defraud a vulnerable victim of £170k
- Led junior in an allegation of attempted murder, witness intimidation and perverting the course of justice, involving young witnesses and defendants
- Led junior in a 16-week immigration ‘cash for visa’ fraud trial
- Led junior in a six-handed conspiracy to facilitate illegal entry into the UK, using improperly obtained ID documents
Sam has also been instructed in several long-term projects, including the Post Office 'Horizon' disclosure review and a secondment to one of the CPS Crown Court teams.
CPS Specialist Serious Crime Group Panel at Level 2.
CPS Specialist Fraud Panel at Level 2.
CPS Specialist Proceeds of Crime Panel at Level 2.
The Bar Council IT Panel.
MPhil, Criminology, University of Cambridge.
LLB, Law, University of East Anglia.
Scholarships and Prizes
2017, Levitt Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
2017, Third Prize, Kalisher Essay Competition - The Kalisher Trust.
2016, Clare Hall Bursary - Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.
2015, Sir Louis Gluckstein Prize for best student advocate - Lincoln’s Inn.
2015, Buchanan Prize - Lincoln’s Inn.
2013, Runner-Up, Law Reform Essay Competition - Bar Council.
2013, Lord Denning Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
2013, Hardwicke Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
Sam publishes a free weekly 'updater' of criminal law news - intended for practitioners, law students, and anyone with an interest in the criminal justice system of England and Wales. You can subscribe to Witness here.
Sam has also developed two apps for criminal lawyers.
Crime Fees is a free criminal legal aid calculator for barristers and solicitors. Available for iOS, Android and macOS, it can be downloaded here.
Crime QRH is an easy to use guide to criminal offences for criminal lawyers and court advocates - a searchable database providing quick access to key details e.g. max sentence, guidelines, class of offence, dangerousness provisions. Available for iOS, Android and macOS, it can be downloaded here.
Recent Advisory Work
Secondment - CPS East of England Crown Court Unit.
Post-Conviction Disclosure Review - Post Office 'Horizon' Cases.
Disclosure Junior - Home Office 'Op Lexes'.
Bollywood ‘cash for visa’ fraud
21 December 2021
Rupert Kent and Sam Willis secured convictions this week at Prospero...
Sam Willis prosecuted this case of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, where the defendants had convinced a vulnerable victim to give her life savings over to them to be 'cleansed' of voodoo. The evidence presented over an 8-day trial included hours of audio recordings, showing that the defendants never had any intention of returning the £170k cash.
Sam Willis, led by Rupert Kent, successfully prosecuted this high-profile 'cash for visa' scam, focused around a company pretending to be involved in the Bollywood film industry. The 16-week trial resulted in unanimous guilty verdicts against six of the eight defendants. The jury heard how the 'employees' had been transferring their own money to the company, which was then used to pay the wage bill. This facade disguised the reality - that the company was not trading, that the 'employees' were not doing any real work, and that the 'employment' was merely a vehicle for the sale of worker visas. Sam was instructed by the CPS Special Casework Unit.
Sam Willis, led by Ben Holt, prosecuted this criminal enterprise to transport large quantities of cocaine from London to Brighton for onward distribution. The evidence came from call data records, a surveillance operation, and 'EncroChat' Operation Venetic material, which all had to be carefully presented at trial.
Sam Willis secured a conviction in this case involving a single punch that left a vulnerable woman unconscious following a dispute between her friends and the defendant. The 6-day trial included section 28 pre-recorded cross-examination and the use of an intermediary.
Sam Willis successfully prosecuted this serious act of violence, arising out of an argument on social media between two young men. The case involved a significant amount of digital material, including social media messages, audio recordings, and CCTV. The 5-day trial required careful presentation of the material and sensitive handling of a vulnerable witness giving evidence through a variety of special measures.