Michael Birnbaum

Michael Birnbaum QC persuades CCRC to refer manslaughter convictions to the Court of Appeal

After a long forensic struggle Michael Birnbaum QC has persuaded the Criminal Cases Review Commission to refer back to the Court of Appeal the convictions of Martin and Nathan Winter for manslaughter by gross negligence. The Winters ran a fireworks business in Sussex. In December 2006 there was a fire at the premises, which caused a container of fireworks to explode. The explosion killed two people. The Prosecution claimed that the contents of the container included fireworks of “Class A”, which the Winters were not legally authorised to have. The jury convicted and an appeal was dismissed.
More recent scientific experiments have established that there may not have been any Class A fireworks at all in the container. Initially, the CCRC rejected the application. However, Michael applied for judicial review of their decision. Most applications for JR against the CCRC are rejected at the permission stage. But, in this case, permission to apply for JR was granted. The CCRC then agreed to reconsider the case and to pay most of the Winters’ costs. So, the Winters, due to Michael’s unstinting efforts on their behalf, can now seek to challenge their convictions again.