Riel is ranked in the Legal 500 in tier 1 for crime, her principal area of practice. She was nominated for “Crime Silk of the year” in 2019 by the Legal 500, and is described in the 2020 Directory as “simply outstanding – the lead in human trafficking prosecutions in England and Wales”.
Her work includes murder, serious organised crime, and sexual offences, particularly cases involving vulnerable witnesses.
She is particularly well known for her work in the field of Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, and she has successfully prosecuted a number of these difficult and high profile trials with what has been described in the directories as “consummate skill”. She has also advised for the defence, and is a contributing editor to the Modern Slavery sections in both Archbold and Rook and Ward on Sexual Offences.
She has previously been cited in the Directories as “measured, calm and efficient” and “an extremely able and conscientious barrister with a persuasive and likeable style”.
Between 2017 and 2019 Riel was Leading Counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, leading the investigation into the Roman Catholic Church, and the English Benedictine Congregation.
Before coming to the Bar, she trained and worked as a theatre director, which not only informed her understanding of the psychology of witnesses and defendants, but has also helped to make her an exceptionally jury friendly advocate.
Professional Disciplinary & Regulatory
Slavery & Human TraffickingOrganised CrimeHomicideTerrorismSexual Offences
Riel is particularly well known for her expertise in the field of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking for the purposes of servitude and sexual and work exploitation. She has successfully prosecuted many ground-breaking trials in this complex area of law and fact, and particularly specialises in cases involving vulnerable victims.
Considered a leader in this area of law, Riel regularly speaks on Slavery and Trafficking and was called to give evidence to the Joint Select Parliamentary Committee in respect of her views on the construction and efficacy of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and also advised on the issue of inclusion of a separate child exploitation offence.
- Op Pottery (2016-17) Forced compulsory labour trial arising from a series of police raids of travellers sites just outside Lincoln: Instructed to advise on the investigation and case presentation, and the division of the operation into 8 trials which involving approximately15 defendants and over 20 vulnerable victims. Riel successfully prosecuted the first and principal trial which lasted approximately 5 months (R v Rooney and others) Press Link: BBC
- R v Suchy and others (2016) (Op Svanetia -Phase 2 (2015-16)) – Conspiracy to traffic vulnerable Roma women from Slovakia to the UK and sell them into sham marriages with Pakistani men seeking to circumvent immigration law: difficult issues of law around the extradition of two defendants (the speciality rule) and evidence of a related conspiracy outside the jurisdiction to traffic women to Germany and the Czech Republic. The case saw the first imposition of extra territorial Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Press Links: Daily Mail
- R v Suchy, Sana and others (Op Svanetia Phase 1) (2014-15) UK limb of conspirators trafficking a young homeless woman from Slovakia to sell her into a sham marriage with a Pakistani male to circumvent immigration law. Whilst with him she was brutally raped. Press Link: BBC
- R v Cannon and others (Op Perlov) (2014) An organised UK criminal network with Russian, Bulgarian and Latvian connections and a conspiracy to traffic a young woman who had been a talented athlete from Bulgaria for the purposes of exploitation. Once here she was forced into prostitution, and advertised for sexual services on a number of web sites. Press Link: Telegraph
- R v Uddin, Sheikh, and Ali (2013) The first case of internal trafficking in South East England: involved the trafficking of a 13 year old girl from London to Ipswich where she was kept in a house and used as a “sex slave” by the defendants. Press Link: BBC
- R v Zlate and others (2012) ‘The Cinderella case’: a Romanian man in his 50’s and a girl of 7 trafficked to the UK by a family of Roma gypsies for exploitation and servitude. The man was raped and abused and the child was severely neglected (she had to have all her teeth removed under sedation and could not count to 10 in her own language) Press Link: Daily Mail
- R v Mooney (2012) The defendant and his wife were employed by the UK Borders Agency in Lagos, Nigeria and charged with assisting unlawful immigration of a Nigerian woman, and lying on her application form in order to employ her here as their nanny for a very limited wage. They pleaded guilty after hearing the case opened to the jury. Read Link: Daily Mail
- R v Harrison (2011) Trafficked girls to the UK from Nigeria and on to Europe for sexual exploitation (rape). First case to involve trafficking both into and out of the UK and the first European case where victims of Juju ‘Black Magic’ agreed to give evidence. Read Link: Daily Mail
- R v. Thomas (2013) Conspiracy to acquire criminal property and fraud by false representation by the personal trainer of a Jersey trust administrator. He deliberately embarked upon a personal relationship with his client to coerce her to give over all her own savings to ‘help’ him, and finally to take money from the Trust funds that she administered. Press Link: Daily Mail
- R v Fray and others (2013) Conspiracy to smuggle mobile telephones and cannabis into HMP Isis. The case relied on recordings of PIN telephone calls made from within the prison, and evidence from seized mobile telephones. It was complicated by the fact that those involved used a dialect of “Shelta”, a cryptolect used by some of the Irish Traveller community, for which there are no interpreters within the UK.
Riel has over 17 years of experience in homicide cases having first come to attention when she was instructed as junior counsel in R v David Mulcahy, the trial of the remaining Railway Rapist and murderer following his convicted accomplice John Duffy’s decision to give evidence against his one-time partner and friend.
Riel has appeared as both leader and junior in many complex murder trials, frequently at the Central Criminal Court. She has significant experience of cold cases, including those arising from enquiries undertaken by the CCRC and of cases where the defence of diminished responsibility is raised.
Notable “Cold Case” Murder
- R v Causley (2004) Retrial for the historic murder of his wife, whose body was never found. The case followed his release on appeal mounted at the behest of the CCRC. Press Links: BBC | Telegraph
- R v Folan (2001) The trial of the man who buried the body of his wife in the foundations of the Royal Northern Hospital, where it was found many years later. Press Links: Irish News | RTE
- R v David Mulcahy (2001) The trial of the last Railway Rapist, then the longest homicide case in the history of the Central Criminal Court Press Links: Wikipedia | BBC | BBC | MurderUK
Diminished Responsibility Cases
- R v. Mallin (2016) The defendant stabbed his wheelchair bound ex-girlfriend and her 86 year old fiancé to death. All three were residents in a sheltered housing association care home at the time. Press Link: Daily Mail
- R v. Salhan and Davies (2016) Bouncers killed a guest with a punch that fractured his larynx and caused him to fall to the floor fracturing his skull. The case involved complex issues of law in respect of joint enterprise murder following the recent case of R v. Jogee  AC 387 of unlawful act manslaughter committed in the course of an affray.
- R v Henry (2011) 16-year-old youth stabbed Olympic worker following racial taunts on night bus in Maida Vale. The victim was resuscitated by paramedics, but resulting brain damage prevented him from giving evidence at trial.
- R v Stewart (2009) Murder which clarified the law on diminished responsibility arising out of alcohol dependency syndrome. | Press Report | Appeal  2 Cr.App.R/ 30, CA.
- R v McClure (2009) The defendant, who suffered from mental illness, violently attacked his 70 year old mother in her home, beating her around the head and body with a hammer.
- R v Liam Palmer (2008) The teenage victim posted a song mocking a member of a notorious postcode gang onto My Space. In a revenge attack he was hit on the head with a brick, suffering a fractured skull which caused later complications and death.
Riel has been instructed in a number of high profile and multi handed terrorism cases including the trial of the alleged accomplices of the 7/7 bombers, the ‘Preachers of Hate’ trial, and the case of ‘The memory stick man’.
- R v. Khawaja, Bhatti and Ali(2015) Preparation for terrorist acts, attendance at a place for terrorist training, and funding.
- R v Hassan and Hussein(2014) Dissemination of terrorist material and the encouragement of terrorism.
- Saleem, Brooks and 6 others(2008) The preachers of hate case involving offences of inciting terrorism and fundraising. Press Link: LexisWeb
- R v Luty (2010-2011) Making documents likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism, namely by distributing instructions on the construction of handguns over the internet. Defendant died before trial. Press Link: Yorkshire Post
- R v Kauser (2011-2012) ‘The memory stick man’ who collected a electronic library of information likely to be of use to a terrorist. Press Links: Guardian | Mirror
Riel has conducted many serious sexual offences trials including those involving allegations of historic sexual abuse, rape, and cases involving children, both as victims and accused. She is particularly good with vulnerable victims.
She recently spoke at a symposium with the Norwegian Law Commission on English Criminal Procedure and the Handling of Vulnerable Witnesses. She is a Lead Facilitator and trainer for Vulnerable Witness Advocacy training currently being given to the Bar in relation to how to adduce evidence from vulnerable witnesses, including children and those with learning and other difficulties.
- R v Uddin and others(2013) The first case of internal trafficking in South East England. The case involved human trafficking, rape and sexual activity with a 13 year old girl with psychological issues who had previously made allegations of rape. She was kept in a house and used as a “sex slave” by the defendants, formed such a bond with one of the men who abused her, that she was extremely reluctant to give evidence about him. Press Links: BBC | Daily Mail | Evening Standard | Guardian
- R v Benson (2013) A high-ranking athletics coach who sexually abused and raped 3 of his young athletes, grooming them from about the age of 14. His actions spanned 3 generations, and a period of 30 years. Press Links: BBC | BBC | Daily Mail
- R v Davey(2013) The defendant groomed and raped two schoolgirls, resulting in two pregnancies and the birth of a severely disabled child. Press Links: Cambridge News | EADT
- R v Robertson (2013) The defendant set a trap for a woman, held her prisoner for two days, raped and threatened to kill her. Press Links: | EADT
- R v JB Defending a 17 year old charged with the rape of a 14 year old girl, Riel successfully challenged DNA evidence of semen on sheets.
- R v Beal(2014) The defendant, a man with learning difficulties, attacked and violently raped a deaf woman with severe learning difficulties.
- R v BO 13 year old boy charged with the rape and sexual assault of a 7 year old boy. Press Link: Telegraph
Inquiries & Appellate Work
Riel prosecuted on behalf of The General Medical Council for approximately 10 years, and has previously also appeared on behalf of The General Social Care Council, and the Bar Standards Board.
- R v Potts and Others (2013-2014) Death of two workmen following the collapse of a wall on the building site of a barn conversion in Suffolk.
Publications, Lectures and Training
Riel has frequently appeared in the Court of Appeal, and has advised and appeared on behalf of the Attorney General on a number of occasions in respect of unduly lenient sentence Appeals.
Speaker on Slavery and Trafficking at:
- Amnesty International lecture (February and April 2016);
- The Modern Slavery Act 2015: CBA Winter Conference (2015);
- Police National Strategic Modern Slavery Meeting (June 2015);
- Czech / British Conference in Prague, organised by the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and the British embassy in Prague (March 2015);
- International Conference on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (June 2014);
- Anti-Slavery International Conference on Human Trafficking (Jan 2014);
- Human Trafficking Seminar West Midland Circuit (November 2013);
- Trafficking Law and Policy Forum – talk on prosecuting R v. Anthony Harrison and use of Juju in trafficking from Nigeria (June 2012)
- English Criminal Procedure and the Handling of Vulnerable Witnesses: symposium with the Norwegian Law Commission 2016.
Commentary on R v. Joseph  Crim.L.R. 817;
Slavery and Human Trafficking chapter in Rook and Ward on Sexual Offences (5th Ed., 2016): co-author with Robert Ward QC;
Joint Interview with Peter Carter QC on the Modern Slavery Bill for Lexis Nexis (2015).