Services & Expertise

Murder & Manslaughter

Duncan Nightingale and Maureen Fawcett handle murder and manslaughter cases at our Lancaster, Kendal and Barrow in Furness offices. If you or a friend or relative are accused of being responsible for the death of another person then you do need a specialist solicitor to represent you in the case.

Our Senior Director, Duncan Nightingale qualified in 1991. Since the 30th May 2003 Duncan has been a Higher Court criminal proceedings advocate. In 2010, Duncan was certified in the Good Lawyer Guide for outstanding legal practice.

Duncan can be regarded as a specialist murder solicitor.

Over the years Duncan has acted in a number of murder and manslaughter cases and can quickly focus the crucial elements and the really relevant points. For a person convicted of murder there is only one sentence and that is life imprisonment, this is a mandatory sentence and the tariff or minimum sentence will be laid down by the sentencing judge. Sentences of 25 years imprisonment are not uncommon.

In cases of such severity often a QC is engaged to hand the case in Court. These are very senior and experienced Barristers. Over the years Duncan and Maureen have practiced they have developed links with Barrister’s Chambers and are able to instruct the best Barristers to represent our clients.

Duncan has acted in the preliminary hearings and also as junior Counsel to assist the instructed QC in the main hearings along with fully preparing the case itself. Duncan prepared and acted in Court in the defence of a man accused of stabbing to death his partner and young son and also other cases where clients were charged with the murder of their partners.

He knows what is needed to prepare a murder case effectively.

We recognise that the ultimate sentence of life imprisonment means that the very best advice is required.

We recognise that you will need the best possible Barrister to represent you in the case.

The meaning of murder

Murder is committed when a person of sound mind unlawfully kills another, with the intention to either kill or cause “grievous bodily harm”.


When a person kills another person but their intention is to hurt them or exert some force on them. This is called manslaughter.

There are various types of manslaughter. The most common arises when a person is aware that their conduct involves a risk of causing death, or at least serious injury and goes on to take the risk. For example, if a person were to inflict a blow to the head with a weapon and this caused the victim to die without specific intention that person has caused a death recklessly.

Another form of manslaughter is corporate manslaughter. An example of this may be an outbreak of legionnaire’s disease in a public building causing death. In this case the owner of the building could have criminal charges brought against them.

Attempted Murder

This is generally where there is an assault of a similar level of seriousness to some murders but the victim has not died.


There are defences that our criminal solicitors will consider on each individual case. For example, the defences include;

  • Diminished responsibility
  • Provocation
  • Duress

Case examples we have dealt with

R v C

This was a very disturbing and tragic case of a young man killing his partner and young child by stabbing them to death.

The man who had no previous convictions and was of good character had suffered a mental breakdown. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a hospital order.

This was a very traumatic case for all concerned but mainly the parents of both the Defendant and his late partner.

Mr Nightingale dealt with all the case preparation and acted as Junior Counsel to the QC who was also instructed.

R v L 2013 Preston Crown Court

In this case several witnesses had given statements to the police. There were a lot of inconsistencies and our criminal solicitors were able to pluck away at the Prosecution case to the extent that the Prosecution offered no evidence on the first day of trial.


R v L 2012 – Preston Crown Court

A case of a large gathering at a local public house where a young man received a blow to the head which was believed to have resulted in his death.

It transpired that the young man already had a previous bleed on the brain from the week before. This was a case that involved expert pathologists. We instructed our own expert pathologist who was able to undermine a causal link between a slap larking about and the cause of the Defendant’s death. The case proceeded to trial and the prosecution offered no evidence on the first day of trial.

In this section