Charlene Sumnall and Joshua Normanton were part of the team that has secured acquittals for clients indicted in Operation Moccasin, also known as the “Norfolk Paedophile ring" case, which lasted 3 months at Norwich Crown Court.
Ten defendants were accused of serious sexual abuse, child cruelty and violence. The senior detective who led the case described the case in the media as “the most harrowing” child abuse case with which he had ever dealt. The allegations were made by 5 vulnerable child complainants all of whom complained of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Joshua’s and Charlene’s clients as well as many others. The charges ranged from conspiracy to rape to conspiracy to incite children to engage in sexual activity.
Charlene Sumnall (instructed by Belmores solicitors) acting as a led junior, represented two defendants in the case who were also charged with the most serious sexual offences. Her clients were acquitted of all charges.
The case was particularly unusual as it led to a separate major investigation into the conduct of certain Norfolk County Council social workers and agency social workers. It was alleged that they altered foster care files which included disclosures of abuse made by the complainants.
The case also involved careful consideration and adoption of the novel approach to cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses which was considered recently in R v Lubemba  EWCA Crim 2064. As a result, some counsel for the defendants did not cross-examine at all but prepared schedules highlighting inconsistencies in the children’s evidence.
The case has received a great deal of national and international media attention, including ITV News, BBC News, The Guardian, The Mirror, The Independent, the Eastern Daily Press and the Irish Independent.