Who? Andrew Cave, partner at Hunt & Coombs Solicitors, Peterborough.
Why is he in the news? Represented at Harrow Crown Court Alex Gray, who was convicted of burglary and stalking pop star Lily Allen. Gray was given a section 37 hospital order with a section 41 restriction order rather than a prison sentence, reflecting his need for assistance rather than jail.
Thoughts on the case: ‘This is the type of case I enjoy because it draws on my expertise and knowledge in criminal and mental health law. Dealing with clients with mental health issues is always challenging, particularly when the defendant has a delusional disorder or schizophrenia. In order to be able to discuss and challenge a client over evidence, you have to gain their trust. Often they do not understand when an overwhelming evidential case presents itself.
‘In this instance, the medical evidence obtained confirmed that Mr Gray suffered from a mental disorder. The court agreed, giving him a hospital order rather than a prison sentence.’
Dealing with the media: ‘Unfortunately, the media sometimes portrays people charged with criminal offences as guilty before their trial. Then, when they are acquitted or the case is discontinued, the defendant receives little recognition. Alex Gray’s case received considerable press attention and both the victim and the relatives of the defendant expressed the view that he needed help more than punishment. Highlighting mental health issues like this in the press can only help encourage more resources to be allocated for people who need such help.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I have always felt strongly that justice should be protected and that everybody has the right to a defence. Becoming a criminal lawyer seemed the perfect choice.’
Career high: ‘When I concluded my first jury speech at the end of my first Crown court trial. It was a great feeling bettered only by the “not guilty” verdict that followed – the elation of the client and their family and the complete satisfaction of a job well done.’
Career low: ‘Tendering for criminal legal aid contracts. It was a very unsettling time [and] after so much effort the process was abandoned with little explanation.’