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The Shipman files Monday, 31 January, 2000, 16:51 GMT
Lead prosecutor played a slick hand
Richard Henriques arriving at Preston Crown Court
Even before the Shipman trial, the oak-panelled number one courtroom at Preston Crown Court held a unique place in the distinguished career of Richard Henriques QC.

It was there, in the glare of the world's media, that he led the successful case against Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the two boys accused of killing toddler James Bulger.

It was a tough brief - rarely has a trial aroused such passions and public feelings of hate towards the defendants.

Exemplary performance
Mr Henriques led the case against the two boys accused of killing toddler James Bulger
Similarly, the Shipman case has been far from straightforward for the prosecution, calling, as it did, for intricate knowledge of medical issues such as the precise toxicological effects of morphine.

Yet journalists at the four-month-long trial say it has been another exemplary performance by the leading Queen's Counsel.

Admittedly, when it came to evidence he had by far the better hand. While the prosecution called on several expert witnesses to back its case, Shipman's lawyer, Nicola Davies QC, used only two witnesses, including the defendant.

"If it was a game of cards the prosecution were looking at a flush," says BBC reporter Allan Urry, a regular on the press bench.
Richard Henriques QC
Born: October 1943
Education: Worcester College, Oxford
Called to the Bar in 1967
Took silk in 1986
Became member of General Council of the Bar in 1993
Elected leader of Northern Circuit in 1995
Interests: Bridge and golf
That confidence was apparent right from the start in Mr Henriques's demeanour. Stylish in his appearance and forthright, he "marshalled his arguments brilliantly and wrong-footed his opponent several times," says Urry.

An example was his first day of cross-examining Shipman. The thought of such rigorous and intense questioning must have deeply troubled the defendant, who no doubt spent hours going through his defence charge by charge the night before.

Rapport with jury

Shipman faced rigorous and intense questioning
On the day however, Mr Henriques surprised everyone by jumping straight to volume eight of the evidence and the question of the doctor's access to morphine.

There was also a distinct change of tone - sterner, accusatorial - in Mr Henriques's voice when Shipman took to the witness box.

Conscious of the fact this was not an easy case to sit through, both because of its length and the complex nature of much of the evidence, Mr Henriques set out from the start to build a strong rapport with the jury.

Only on one notable occasion did he slip up, during his questioning of an expert witness.

Mr Henriques, concerned that his witness's response was too clouded in jargon, asked: 'Can you put that in layman's terms, bearing in mind that we are in Preston, not a city?'

The comment prompted looks of disbelief among the jurors and provoked a minor outcry in the press.

Mostly though, his local credentials helped him bond with the seven men and five women he had to win over.

The lawyer's barrister of choice

Richard Henriques was born just 15 miles from Preston, in Lytham St Annes, a well-to-do town best known for its world class golf course. It's no surprise therefore that when not poring over his legal briefs or pacing courtrooms, the 56-year-old likes nothing better than to play a leisurely 18 holes.
Notable cases
Prosecution of A and B (The wheelie bin murder of Lily Lilley) 1999
Defence of Nicola Grogan (chainsaw murder) 1997
Defence of Betty Rodgers (alleged murder of husband) 1996
Prosecution of Thompson and Venables (James Bulger murder) 1993
Defence of John Nelson (Derek Hatton's chairman of planning) 1992
Prosecution of John Healy (murder of Annette Wade) 1990
A graduate of Worcester College, Oxford, the leading silk, who is of Portuguese origin, is one of the best known faces on the Northern Circuit.

Made a Queen's Counsel in 1986, he was elected leader of the Northern Circuit in 1995. His was among the select number of names volunteered in a 1996 survey, which asked criminal specialists to choose a preferred barrister having imagined themselves in the dock, accused of murder.

Apart from Bulger and Shipman, Mr Henriques has played a lead role in several other notable cases. They include securing the convictions last summer of two teenage girls from Oldham who tortured and killed 71-year-old Lily Lilley and dumped her body in a wheelie bin.

In 1997 he defended Nicola Grogan against a murder charge after she was accused of killing her ex-lover and cutting up his body with a chainsaw. She was found guilty of manslaughter.

But Mr Henriques's feats of achievement have not found favour in all quarters. Along with Michael Mansfield, he was among four "fat cat" barristers probed by a House of Lords inquiry into alleged milking of the legal aid system.

In 1995/6 he made 500,000, although he claimed this figure related to earnings from more than one year.

His performance at the Shipman trial will help preserve his place near the top of his profession.

Find out more about the Shipman murders

Trial and reaction

See also:

31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
31 Jan 00 | The Shipman files
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