Sarah Johnston

Call 2004

Photo of Sarah Johnston


Sarah has a wealth of experience in all areas of criminal litigation acting on behalf of both the prosecution and defence. Her areas of practice include fraud, serious sexual offences, violence, drugs offences and firearms. She also represents Defendants in all aspects of prison law including applications for Judicial Review, adjudications and Parole Board Hearings.

Sarah is a Grade 4 Prosecutor and a member of the CPS Rape Panel. She has become specialist in cases involving the most serious sexual allegations and is increasingly instructed in high profile and sensitive cases for both the Prosecution and Defence, involving the most vulnerable complainants and defendants. Sarah has also acted as a led junior in a number of cases involving fraud, attempted murder, rape and violent disorder. She has been security cleared to SC level to enable her to deal with cases involving terrorism and allowing her to consider material relating to national security.

In 2016 Sarah was appointed to sit as a Recorder in the Crown Court. She is one of the youngest Recorders ever appointed.

Criminal Cases

R v A (2018) (Preston) Successful prosecution of officer for misconduct relating to sexual grooming of vulnerable adult victims; a first of its kind.

R v Pennington (2017) Successful defence of child sex offences.

R v Sumner (2017) Successful defence of rape.

R v Fitzgerald (2016) Defence of serial armed robberies.

R v Scott (2016) Successful defence of rape.

R v Obeghe (2016) Successful defence of rape.

OPERATION DAMSON (2016) Led junior for the Prosecution in a twenty-handed case involving the sale of firearms and drugs to an undercover police officer.

OPERATION INDEX (2016) Led junior for the Prosecution in a multi-handed case of murder.

Operation Affleck (2015) Led junior for the Prosecution in a £3m land-banking fraud. The entire case is digitally presented.

R v Ruehle and others (2015) Leading junior for Prosecution of three defendants for serious sexual offending against a series of vulnerable young women.

R v Mills (2015) Prosecution of offences of kidnap, false imprisonment and blackmail involving complex hearsay and bad character evidence.

R v McGuinn (2014) Prosecution of thirty-year old offences of rape involving grooming and blackmail of the complainant.

R v Taylor (2013) Defence of historic rapes of two sisters with an absent Defendant.

R v Hall (2013) Led junior for the Prosecution in multi-complainant rape.

R v Simpson (2013) Prosecution of school teacher for online grooming involving a self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’ sting operation.

Operation Valgus (2012-2013)

Led junior for the defence in a multi-handed mortgage fraud representing a professional lay client.

Operation Oak (2012-2013)

Led junior in the Prosecution of 31 defendants charged with conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. The prosecution resulted in the conviction of every defendant charged.

Operation Bionic (2011)

Led junior for the Prosecution in a multi handed case involving the new inchoate offences under the Serious Crime Act 2007. Investigated by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

Operation Compost (2010)

Led junior in a mutihanded VHCC fraud conspiracy where the jury were discharged from reaching verdicts in our case following successful submissions of no case to answer.

Operation Chancellor (2010)

Led junior in a multi-handed VHCC fraud conspiracy where no evidence was offered after two weeks of legal argument.

A-G’s Reference No 52 & 53 of 2008

Successfully defended a reference by the Attorney General where the Appellate Court upheld a suspended prison sentence imposed for Section 18 Wounding with Intent after a trial.