Barrister Profile


Year of Call: 1995

KC: 2024

Main Areas of Practice

Administrative Law or Judicial Review
Coroners or Inquests
Criminal Law
Public Inquiries


David practised for 13 years at the Bar in London (Chambers of Michael Mansfield KC) before moving to Belfast in 2009 to commence practice at the Bar of Northern Ireland. He is a multi-disciplinary practitioner who has been in continuous practice in two jurisdictions since 1996. He has acted for applicants and notice parties in numerous judicial review cases with an emphasis on fundamental rights issues. His other principle areas of practice include public inquiries and inquests. David is highly experienced in the fields of heavy legacy inquests and public inquires. Most recently, he was instructed to act as counsel to the coroner in the Ballymurphy Inquest, the longest running inquest in the history of Northern Ireland. David also has extensive experience in parole hearings involving life and extended custodial sentence prisoners where dangerousness is the issue. He has been instructed by the Special Advocates Support Office (“SASO”) in London to act as special advocate in a complex and highly sensitive case concerning a prisoner who had been a member of the New IRA. He continues to be instructed by SASO in relation to serious High Court action where the state is alleged to have colluded in murders. Crime and extradition continue to form a significant component of David’s practice. David has substantial experience in complex High Court actions including those brought against Facebook, national newspapers and in legacy actions.


1988: BSc (Hons)

1994: Postgraduate Diploma in Law

1995: Awarded degree of Barrister-at-Law by Inns of Court School of Law, London and called to the Bar of England & Wales at Inner Temple, London

2003: Barrister of the Inn of Court of Northern Ireland

2023: Barrister of Kings Inns, Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Appointed to the Coroner’s A Panel of Counsel

Appointed to the Attorney General’s Panel of Counsel (Public Law Panel)

Appointed to the Advocate General’s Special Advocates Panel


Inquiries and Legacy Inquests

In the matter of a series of deaths that occurred in August 1971 at Ballymurphy, West Belfast [2021] NICoroner 6. First junior within team of four counsel to the coroner, Mrs Justice Keegan (now Lady Chief Justice for Northern Ireland). The inquests were into the ten civilian deaths which occurred in August 1971 at the time interment without trial was introduced. These were coronial proceedings of unmatched complexity. The findings of the coroner were rightly recognised as being of enormous importance and huge legal and historical significance. They are viewed as a model for the numerous legacy inquests which are due to be heard over the coming 4 years. See here.

Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Instructed to act for a person against who allegations of sexual abuse were made. Attended hearings, prepared written submissions to the panel and made oral submissions towards the end of the proceedings.

In the matter of an inquest into the death of James (Seamus) Oliver Bradley, HHJ Kinney, verdict and findings of 15 August 2019 not yet reported. HHJ Kinney, verdict and findings of 15 August 2019 not yet reported, though see link to summary of judgment below. A highly controversial inquest concerning the unlawful shooting by a British soldier of a member of the IRA during Operation Motorman in Derry. See here and here.

In the matter of an inquest into the death of Daniel Hegarty, December 2011. Army shooting of an innocent 15-year-old boy during Operation Motorman in Derry, heard by the Senior Coroner sitting with a jury. Findings included that the deceased presented no threat of any kind, and no sufficient warnings were given before opening fire. See here.

In the matter of an inquest into the death of Manus Deery [2017] NICoroner 1 Colton J. Army shooting of an innocent 15-year-old boy in Derry in 1972. Robust findings to the effect that there was no basis for the shot which killed Manus Deery being fired and that even if the soldier honestly believed there was a gunman present, the firing of the shot was a disproportionate reaction to it. See here.

In the matter of an inquest into the death of Dermot McShane, heard by coroner (HHJ Brian Sherrard) and jury, findings delivered in July 2008. This was the first of the resumed legacy inquests to be heard. The death took place during the Drumcree related riots in Derry on 13 July 1996. The jury decided that the Army was responsible for this death.

Public Law

SM Application for leave to apply for Judicial Review (as Father and next friend of RM) and in the matter of a decision of a Review Tribunal [2021] NIQB 75. Challenge to a Review Tribunal decision that a patient should remain subject to detention in a hospital in accordance with the Mental Health NI Order 1986 in circumstances where he was no longer resident there nor receiving any medical treatment at a hospital or similar healthcare facility.

Application for judicial review of Michael McConville & Others, 2015, unreported. Acting for the children of Jean McConville, murdered and ‘disappeared’ by the Provisional IRA in 1972. The case was a challenge to the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s refusal to disclose the HET’s report into the murder.

McGurk’s Bar Massacre/Bridget Irvine applications for judicial review (No 1 (2015) and No 2 (ongoing)) - Challenge to Chief Constable’s refusal to disclose HET report (No 1) See here. which was consequently provided, and challenge to findings within that report that there had been no investigative bias by the RUC at the time (No 2) See here.

In the matter of applications for leave to apply for judicial review by JR131 and William Clifford (Leave Stage) [2021] NIQB 2. Judicial review of a District Judge’s decisions in non-molestation order (“NMO”) proceedings. Judgment in the full hearing of JR131 has since been handed down but it is not yet published. It contains importance and extensive guidance on the approach practitioners and District Judges should take when an NMO application is made in circumstances where there are extant criminal proceedings based on the same facts.

In the matter of an application by Margaret Brady for judicial review [2018] NICA 20. Judicial review of the DPP’s decision not to prosecute Soldier B in connection with the shooting of Daniel Hegarty during Operation Motorman. The court found that the Director’s decision not to prosecute was irrational and quashed it. This resulted in a fresh decision to prosecute.

In the matter of an application by Soldier B for leave to apply for judicial review [2020] NIQB 76. Acted for the Margaret Brady, sister of Daniel Hegarty, as notice party in Soldier B’s unsuccessful attempt to overturn the DPP’s decision to prosecute him for the murder of Daniel. See here. Note that the decision to prosecute has since been reviewed and reversed for different reasons and there is now a challenge to that decision before the Divisional Court.

In the matter of an application for judicial review by Jennifer McNern [2020] NIQB 57. Successful challenge to the Executive Office’s failure to implement the Troubles victim’s payments scheme. Ground breaking challenge to the Executive Office, principally to the First and Deputy First Ministers. See here.

In the matter of an application by SM as father and next friend RO for a writ of habeas [2020] NIQB 73. A part of the complex litigation arising out of the Mr O & Mr R case (see Civil Litigation section below).

In the matter of an application by Mark Toal for Judicial review [2017] NIQB 124.The first of a serious of judicial reviews and appeals in connection with decisions by parole commissioners whereby they declined to release this extended custodial sentence prisoner on licence. This particular application was a successful challenge to the Commissioners’ decision not to adjourn a case and not to call certain witnesses.

Re Mark Toal [2019] NICA 37; [2020] NI 767. The Commissioner’s appeal of the above judgment in which the Court of Appeal substantially upheld the trial judge’s decision.

In the matter of an application by Mark Patrick Toal for Leave to Apply for Judicial Review (No 2) [2018] NIQB 97. The focus was on the dangerous test applied by the Commission when Mr Toal sought release on licence. The applicant argued that the test at release stage (whether the risk of serious harm must be significant) was equivalent to the one applied when Mr Toal was sentenced in the crown court. successful at first instance but overturned on appeal (See Mark Toal (No 2) [2019] NICA 34; [2020] NI 779.)

Re Grieve’s Application [2017] NIQB 1; [2018] NIJB 366 Judicial review of a government department on lawfulness of legal aid contributions determination.

Re HW’s Application [2016] NIQB 18; [2018] NIJB 244 Complex challenge of rehabilitation policies of the prison service.

Clarke’s (Cormac) Application [2016] NIQB 6 Divisional Court case. Challenge of a decision by the DPP not to prosecute a case.

Burns’ (Michael) Application [2015] NIQB 24. Full frontal challenge to the legal aid regulations and the lack of any exceptionality provisions in criminal cases in the crown court. Led directly to new regulations allowing additional remuneration on exceptionality grounds.

Re LP’s Application for Judicial Review [2014] NICA 67. Judicial review of decision by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry not to allow legal representation for victims.


David has conducted numerous extradition cases on Article3/prison conditions grounds, in relation to the Article 8 right to family life and on double jeopardy grounds.

Court In Sad Okregowy, Poland v Sebastian Gorski [2015] NICty 1 Extradition request refused on Article 8 and other grounds.

Civil Litigation

In the matters involving Frederick Scappatticci [2021] NIQB 81. Highly complex, lengthy multiparty litigation arising out of acts of alleged agent resulting in deaths and miscarriages of justice with closed materials dimension. Crossover with Operation Kenova on discovery issues. See here.

Re MR O and MR R [2020] NIFam 23. The Belfast Trust sought a declaration that the conditions of a MHRT conditional discharge would not be in breach of Article 5 of the Convention. A case of high public importance with notice parties including the Attorney General for Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission and the Official Solicitor. Acted as junior counsel alone for Mr O. Case described by the Senior Judicial Review Judge as one of “unparalleled complexity in this jurisdiction”.

ZY v Higgins & NICTS [2013] NIQB 8. Application for a permanent anonymity order for a person convicted of indecent assault of a child on grounds that there was a risk of suicide if publicity was allowed, which would in turn constitute a breach of the Article 2 right to life. Unique litigation in this jurisdiction.

ZX v George Jackson & NICTS, 2020, unreported. Some similarities to ZY (above), though the offences were drug trafficking and the Article 2 and Article 3 issues related to the risk a punishment shooting. Unique case on its facts.

Fulton v Sunday Newspapers Ltd [2015] NIQB 100. Injunction proceedings brought by alleged UVF Commander against the Sunday World.


David has conducted numerous jury trials, several Diplock trials as well as many appeals against conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal.

R v Shakir Ullah 2020 Northern Ireland Court of Appeal, unreported. Complex appeal arising out of confiscation proceedings.

R v Patrick McDaid [2014] NICA 1. Appeal against Diplock court conviction in dissident republican case.

R v Raytheon Goretti Horgan & Others, Belfast Crown Court, June 2010, Recorder of Belfast and a jury. Acted as leading junior in second ‘Raytheon’ political protest case. See here.

R v Patrick McCourt [2010] NICA 6. CCRC referral; 1977 convictions quashed on ground that there was a failure by the Diplock trial judge to provide reasons for conviction as required by statute.

R v JSK [2011] NICA 44. Historic sexual abuse offences. Appeal allowed on basis of post-conviction fresh evidence.

R v Terence Laverty, February 2015. David’s submissions to the Criminal Cases Review Commission resulted in the conviction for riotous behaviour being referred back to the county court. Mr Laverty was the brother of one of those persons shot at Ballymurphy in August 1971.

R v David Roger Trewin [2008] EWCA Crim 484. Extremely complex appeal raising issues of directions given on hearsay and good character.

International Law

Glenroy Francis & Others -and- The State of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago- Privy Council appeal against conviction in death penalty murder case on the doctrine of constructive malice.

Rawle Kennedy and The State of the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago- Privy Council appeal against conviction in death penalty murder case on grounds of trial judge’s direction on intention and joint enterprise.

In the matter of an amicus curiae investigation into alleged contempts of the Tribunal in the case of Vojislav Šešelj, 2009 International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Member of a team of counsel advising the Tribunal on contempt of court alleged against the leader of the Serbian Radical Party.