• 5 King's Bench Walk, Temple, London EC4Y 7DN
  • T: +44 (0) 20 7353 5638
  • Out of Hours: 07738 328059
  • DX: LDE 367 London
  • X

Practice Profile

Sam is a specialist criminal barrister, instructed for both prosecution and defence. His practice is focused on serious and complex cases, usually involving organised crime, violence, firearms, drugs, and fraud. He is on the CPS General Crime, Serious Crime, and Fraud Panels at Level 3.

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:

  • Sole and led junior in various EncroChat (Operation Venetic) cases, including a seven-handed conspiracy to supply cocaine and a three-week trial involving technical admissibility challenges.
  • Led junior in a 16-week trial considering allegations of importing 270kg of cocaine, 2500kg of cannabis and 18.6m duty-free cigarettes, hidden inside shipping containers.
  • Led junior in a eight-handed 'Flying Squad' conspiracy focused on an OCG committing a series of robberies and burglaries across London.
  • 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.
  • Led junior in a complex diminished responsibility murder trial at the Central Criminal Court.
  • Led junior in the final trial of Operation Melrose, the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found inside a lorry in Essex in 2019.
  • Sole junior in a sophisticated fraud involving complex computing evidence, where the defendants had created a website to steal online banking information.
  • Sole junior in a long-running neighbourhood dispute culminating in the use of a firearm to cause fear of violence.
  • Sole junior in a three-handed conspiracy to defraud a vulnerable victim of £170k.
  • Sole junior in a case involving the possession of a sawn-off shotgun and challenges to expert DNA evidence.

Sam has also been instructed in several long-term projects, including the Post Office 'Horizon' disclosure review, an SFO disclosure review, and a secondment to one of the CPS Crown Court teams. He was recently a keynote speaker at the Cityforum Digital Forensics Summit, presenting on the uses of digital forensic evidence in jury trials.

Outside of law, Sam is a keen skier, snowboarder, and scuba diver. He previously competed internationally for Great Britain in Canoe Marathon.

Sam's Privacy Policy can be downloaded here.


  • CPS General Crime Panel at Level 3.
  • CPS Specialist Serious Crime Group Panel at Level 3.
  • CPS Specialist Fraud Panel at Level 3.
  • 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

  • Sir Louis Gluckstein Prize for best advocate - Lincoln’s Inn.
  • Levitt Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
  • Buchanan Prize - Lincoln’s Inn.
  • Lord Denning Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
  • Hardwicke Scholarship - Lincoln’s Inn.
  • Runner-Up, Law Reform Essay Competition - Bar Council.
  • Clare Hall Bursary - Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.
  • Prize for Exceptional Achievement - University of East Anglia.


Sam is the author of 'A Practical Guide to Digital Communications Evidence in Criminal Law' - a textbook aimed at practitioners looking to understand the most common types of digital communications evidence used in criminal prosecutions. It can be purchased directly from the publisher or from Wildy. A sample chapter is available here. He has also been asked to present Webinars on digital evidence, specifically 'Using Mobile Telephone Data' and 'Call Data, Cell Sites, and Internet Records'.

Sam also 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 published two mobile 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

  • Disclosure Junior - Op Tarthra (murder).
  • Disclosure Junior - Home Office 'Op Lexes' (immigration fraud).
  • Post-Conviction Disclosure Review - Post Office 'Horizon' Cases.
  • Disclosure Review - SFO Prosecution (fraud).
  • Secondment - CPS East of England Crown Court Unit.​


Conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration

27 November 2023

Ben Holt led Sam Willis in the prosecution of Caolan Gormley who was... Read More

28 years for man who killed sister-in-law with a hatchet

10 October 2023

Catherine Pattison and Sam Willis prosecuted this case of murder, which... Read More

OCG prosecuted for spree of commercial burglaries

22 June 2023

Following an eight-week trial at Croydon Crown Court, eight members of an... Read More

OCG jailed for 26 years

13 February 2023

Dickon Reid and Sam Willis prosecuted this... Read More

Recent Cases

View All Cases


Credit for Guilty Plea at PTPH

Since the Sentencing Council updated the guideline on ‘Reduction in sentence for a guilty... Read More