Originally from Belfast, I moved to England to study Law at St.Anne’s College, Oxford before being called to the Bar of England and Wales. I practised criminal and family law from 1 King’s Bench Walk, London and that professional experience led to my research interest in the points of intersection between family and criminal law. My work as an academic explores the intersection of crime and the family and in particular the rights of children whose parents are in conflict with the law.
I am currently a British Academy Post Doctoral Fellow at the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. My most recent research focused on the experiences of children whose parents were in prison during the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown. I have a particular interest in sentencing, and my ESRC funded research on the rights of children when mothers are sentenced has influenced judicial practice and government policy. I created a film series ‘Safeguarding Children when Sentencing Mothers’ which is used in England, Wales and Scotland by judiciary and other criminal justice professionals. The underpinning research is available to read in the book Maternal Sentencing and the Rights of the Child .
I have provided training and webinars on the sentencing of mothers (primary carers), for judges in other jurisdictions including Scotland, Northern Ireland and New Zealand. I was the winner of the ESRC Early Career Outstanding Impact Award 2019. I enjoy communicating my work and the issues it raises with different audiences. Most recently I wrote a short programme for the BBC Radio 4 series ‘Four Thought’ which is available as a podcast. Many of you are reading this now because of that podcast – thank you for your interest in my work. You may find the What Can I Do? page useful if that’s the question you are asking.