Ioana Nedelcu

  • Year of Call 2012

Ioana is ranked as a leading junior in Legal 500 and defends in high-profile cases including murders, modern slavery, drugs conspiracies and dishonesty offences.

Career Overview

Ioana's practice focuses on complex cases including gang related murders, modern slavery, serious drugs and dishonesty offences. She is fearless in cross examination and a charismatic, but robust advocate. Her ability to engage with the jury has led to swift acquittals in cases against the odds.

Ioana is a determined and extremely able advocate, always quick to impress. She is often praised by instructing solicitors and her colleagues for her unmatched work ethic. Her ability to digest enormous amounts of information never fails to impress. She is tenacious and relentlesly hard-working, as well as particularly versed in disclosure issues, all abilities that have led to her instruction in high profile cases including gang related murders, the largest known modern slavery conspiracy in Europe and the Boodles diamond heist. At only 9 years call she was also instructed as a leading counsel in a large paper heavy drugs conspiracy.  

As the go to counsel for Slavery and Trafficking Risk/Prevention Orders and Forfeiture, Ioana is often able to negotiate favourable terms or argue against an order being made. She gives robust advice and drafts persuasive written representations often resulting in the conclusion of the case in her clients’ favour, against all odds. Ioana is generally involved from an incipient phase in modern slavery cases and walks her lay clients and instructing solicitors through the process from their first arrest. 

Ioana is ranked as a leading individual in Legal 500 edn. 2022 and 2021 and is described as having a "ferocious work ethic with a memory second to none and an ability to digest complex issues and large amounts of information quickly." She is recognised as having "a brain for detail and absorb more information about a case than anyone at the Bar" as well as "punching well above her year of call," "with a relaxed, easy going style that both solicitors and clients admire." 

Areas of Expertise

Ioana accepts instructions in a large spectrum of criminal offences with a particular focus in the following areas:

  • Serious organised crime;  
  • Cyber crime;
  • Gang related offences against the person and murders;
  • Modern slavery and Slavery and Trafficking Risk/Prevention Orders;
  • Forfeiture;

Notable Cases


R v WC [Operation Outfit] - Mold Crown Court

Led by QC in the trial of a man charged with gross negligence manslaughter. The case was particularly sensitive and involved unusual facts. The Defendant and the deceased, whilst intoxicated on alcohol and a cocktail of drugs, engaged in consensual bondage sexual intercourse. The Defendant fell asleep therefore breaching his duty of care towards his partner. She axphysiated. The Defence sucessfully severed the Indictment and excluded significant bad character type evidence in advance of the trial. The case involved significant expert evidence and interogation of telephone material that were extracted and included by the Defence in the jury bundle. The case attracted widespread media attention.  

R v NT [Operation Lapis] - Wolverhampton Crown Court

Led by QC in the trial of a young man charged with the murder of a 15 year old child. The Defendant, one of four was said to have inflicted over 40 stab wounds in the plain sight of members of the public. The motive for the killing was said to be the victim switching gangs. The Defendant was barely an adult at the time of the trial, and 17 years of age at the time of the offence. The case involved extensive telephone and forensic evidence and complex legal submissions on the admissability of gang related evidence, drill music videos, hearsay and bad character evidence. Upon the completion of the case, in recognition for her work in the case, Ioana was presented with a red bag by her leading counsel. The case attracted widespread media attention.  

R v DB [Operation Ratio] - Wolverhampton Crown Court 

Led by QC in Operation Ratio (trial and re-trial), where the Defendant and his nephew stood trial for murdering a male and attempted to seriously injure another in the same night.

R v PH [Operation Cocoa] - Wolverhampton Crown Court 

Led by QC in Operation Cocoa, where a 70-year-old man had died as a result of sustaining 30 broken rib injuries as well as a number of neck and head injuries. The Crown relied on extensive medical reports that were challenged in court. 

Modern Slavery: 

R v WN [Operation Huai] - Southwark Crown Court

Ioana is instructed to represent WN who faces a number of modern slavery, controlling prostitution and money laundering charges. WN is alleged to have been exploited when she first came to the UK, but moved into a more trusted position where she would then control other females in a number of properties in central London. Ioana previously represented WN in civil proceedings and the District Judge refused to make a Slavery and Trafficking risk order against her.

R v CO [Operation Supermarine] - Swindon Crown Court

Ioana represents CO (second on the Indictment) who faces a number of modern slavery, controlling prostitution and money laundering charges. CO is alleged to have been exploited when she first came to the UK, but moved into a more trusted position where she would then control other females in a number of brothels in Swindon.

R v PM - Oxford Crown Court

Ioana appeared for the Appellant (a young man) in an appeal against conviction on slavery, facilitation, drugs supply and possession of criminal property charges. The Appellant was convicted in the Oxford Youth Court and the matters were committed for sentence as the DJ noted that the Defendant is looking at a lengthy custodial sentence. The appeal was allowed on the facilitation and slavery charges. Although the appeal was dismissed on the drug related charges, the tribunal found that the Appellant who had a history of being trafficked within a county line for a number of years, was in the lowest category and culpability and sentenced to a 24 month community order. A modern slavery expert was instructed and gave evidence in these proceedings. 

R v VL [Operation Cardinas] – Blackfriars Crown Court 

Ioana defended the second Defendant in Operation Cardinas, a cross border investigation into modern slavery offences that involves both the British and the Romanian authorities. There were at least 20 complainants identified, more than 20,000 pages of served evidence and the trial is due to last 8-10 weeks.VL, the father of the first Defendant was alleged to be part of an organised crime group that takes advantage of vulnerable Romanian people by deceiving them into travelling from Romania to London, living in substandard, crowded accommodation before sending them to do forced or compulsory work, commonly on construction sites or in the cleaning industry.

VL was acquitted by the jury, after the judge acceded to half time submissions in relation to all the counts on the indictment, namely, conspiracy to require others to perform forced labour, conspiracy to traffick people from Romania into the UK and money laundering (of over £2million). Reported in the news, read more.

R v MC [Operation Fort] – Birmingham Crown Court 

Ioana was instructed for the first Defendant in Operation Fort. This was a 4-month trial involving a number of offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. Operation Fort is to date the largest investigation into modern slavery offences in Europe. The case involved over 80 Complainants and over 1.3 million pages of evidence were served as part of the prosecution case, including a vast amount of telephone and banking evidence. MC was the first on the Indictment and his role was mainly to take people to the banks and able to show the "respectable face of the conspiracy" assisting the leader of the conspiracy.

This case was described as “the most ambitious, extensive and prolific modern-day slavery ever exposed in the UK,” with over 400 people being trafficked from Poland into the UK, threatened with violence, forced into work arranged via agencies and made to live in squalid accommodations. Bank accounts and benefit claims were opened in their names, but the cards were kept by the conspirators, for their own use. Reported in the news, read more.

Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders:

R v TM [Operation Gazania] - St Albans Magistrates Court

Ioana represented a Respondent in a Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order application. The Crown have offered no evidence in relation to the slavery charges but the police continue to make an application to keep the Respondent and others under significant restrictions for 5 years. The application is due to be heard in the summer of 2022. 

R v WN [Operation Huai] - Westminster Magistrates Court

Following a three day hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court (counsel certificate), Ioana argued that if such a trafficking conspiracy ever existed, her client was most likely a victim and the police have ignored clear modern slavery hallmarks in the evidence by relying solely on one unreliable witness who had given three different accounts on a number of occasions. District Judge Goozee, delivering judgement on Friday 6th November 2020, agreed with Ioana's submissions. Without the necessary finding of fact, the application made on behalf of the Metropolitan police was dismissed. 

R v MC [Operation Fort] - Birmingham Magistrates Court

Ioana represented MC in one of the first ever applications for an Interim Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order.  


R v RP [Operation Tattoo] - Winchester Crown Court

Ioana acted as leading counsel in this conspiracy to supply class A drugs. The case involved over 100,000 pages of used evidence and over 2 million pages of unused evidence, all in telephone evidence. The case against the Defendant relied purely on telephone evidence and the Defence prepared extensive schedules including the telephone evidence extracted from handsets and call data. The case was abandoned mid trial in August 2021 due to Covid-19 complications. Re-trial took place in February 2022. 

R v IH - Swindon Crown Court

Ioana represents IH in a class A drugs supply case. The entire evidence in the case relies on telephone contact [call data and text messages]. The defence raised is under s. 45 of the Modern slavery act. 

R v IH [Operation Distant] - St Albans Crown Court

Ioana is instructed to represent IH who is alleged to be the leader of a wide conspiracy supplying class A Drugs. The prosecution case rests significantly on encrochat evidence that is currently subject to a large number of legal arguments. The case is ongoing. 

R v JC - Worcester Crown Court 

Ioana sucessfuly represented a Defendant accused of drugs supply. Unanimous Not Guilty verdict against all odds. The case involved examination of phones, including disputing attribution for a phone that was linked to drug dealing. 

R v OD - Oxford Crown Court 

Ioana represented the alleged head of a successful class A drugs county line in the South Oxfordshire area. Following a Newton Hearing, the judge was persuaded that he cannot be certain on the evidence that the Defendant was the head of the county line. The argument involved thorough analysis of the telephone evidence and the instruction of cell site and call data expert. Reported in the news.   

Dishonesty Offences:

R v LF [Operation Octagon] - Southwark Crown Court - Money laundering conspiracy

Ioana is instructed in a 6 weeks trial whereby the Defendant is alleged to be part of a conspiracy engaged in the laundering of proceeds from mandate and advance fee frauds. Case is ongoing. 

R v NH [Operation Malina] - Snaresbrook Crown Court - Conspiracy to defraud

Ioana was instructed as sole counsel in a conspiracy to defraud Boots and Tesco. Ioana represented a young woman in her 20s who claimed that she has been the subject of 10 years of exploitation and did not participate in the commission of the fraud voluntarily. The modern slavery defence under s.45 Modern Slavery Act 2015 was raised. The case involved extensive telephone and banking evidence, as well as live evidence from a number of young victims of exploitation. It is believed that this is the first ever modern slavery fraud case and Ioana's client was the only Defendant charged with the conspiracy to defraud to be acquitted to date. For news links click here for the Times article and other news here

R v KA - Harrow (Barbican) Crown Court - Money laundering

Ioana secured a swift Not Guilty verdict in a money laundering case involving the transportation of over £120,000 in cash alleged to be criminal property. Ioana cross examined the officer in the case and highlighted systematic failures of the police to act upon information received in the police interview. The case was heard at the Barbican Nightingale court. 

R v LL [Operation Franklin] - Southwark Crown Court - Diamonds Heist

Ioana represented a Defendant who stood charged with stealing £4.2 million worth of diamonds from a high profile jewellery shop in Mayfair, in a heist likened to the Ocean's Eleven movie. The Defendant argued that it was not her caught on the CCTV footage but rather her deceased sister who was wanted in Switzerland for an almost identical crime and picked out at the ID parade by the loser. The case was reported in the national and international news. See the Times and other news articles. 

R v VM [Operation Stock] - Northampton Crown Court - Conspiracy to steal livestock

Ioana represented one of the men accused of a conspiracy to steal livestock, namely the illegal slaughter of at least 320 sheep belonging to farmers in the Northamptonshire area. The case and the disturbing method of slaughter have been highly publicised. Reported in the news.

R v RM [Operation Gwendreath] - Southwark Crown Court - Conspiracy to steal high value cars

Ioana represented the Defendant in Operation Gwendreath who allegedly conspired to steal high value cars in the range of £10 million and launder money.

R v EI [Operation Buccina] – Inner London Crown Court - Diamonds heist

Ioana represented the first Defendant in Operation Buccina. The Defendant was accused of a conspiracy to steal over £1,000,000 worth of diamonds. She accepted that she disguised herself in a niqab and burka and accompanied the male who stole the diamonds but stated that she did not know anything was to be stolen. Crown’s case relied heavily on phone evidence. The Defence relied on the phone evidence that was not part of the Crown’s schedules, creating a detailed call schedule to prove wider involvement of others lower on the Indictment.

Unanimous Not Guilty verdict in an hour. The Defendant, a single mother and five, was released after 7 months in custody. Reported in the news.

R v SA [Operation Shine] – Bristol Crown Court - Conspiracy to burgle and handling stolen goods

Ioana represented the first Defendant in Operation Shine. The trial, listed for 6-8 weeks involved eleven Defendants who conspired to burgle and later, to handle stolen goods to the value of £2million from the home address of a member of the public.

The Defendant, SA, denied having conspired with two others to burgle the residence and get away with millions of pounds worth of jewellery and paintings. He also denied having conspired to handle stolen goods with six others. His fingerprints were found on one the wire on the back of the most expensive painting and there was relevant telephone contact in 2015 that connected him to his co-Defendants.

The case involved legal arguments in very novel areas of law, such as entrapment, the admissibility of PGP evidence [a telephone that is designed to protect those who wish to remain anonymous to the police] as well as lengthy submissions of no case to answer.

The Judge acceded to a submission of no case to answer on the count alleging burglary and in November 2019 the Crown offered no evidence in relation to the handling stolen goods and Not Guilty verdicts were officially entered. Reported in the news.

Offences Against the Person/Firearms:

R v EA - Manchester Crown Court - Possession of firearm with intent

Ioana is instructed to represent a young male who is allegedly part of a group that shot at the opposite gang members' addresses. The matter is ongoing. 

R v CR - Warwick Crown Court - Possession of firearms and drugs

Ioana is instructed to represent the lead Defendant who is allegedly the head of an OCG controlling a large stash of firearms and drugs. 

R v DEB - Isleworth Crown Court - Firearms and perverting the course of justice

Ioana represented a 45 year old woman charged with concealing a firearm during a police raid. The prosecution was persuaded to drop the firearms count and the Defedant entered a Guilty plea to perverting the course of justice. In spite of having similar previous convictions, the judge aceeded to the submissions made by Ioana and sentenced the Defendant to a suspended sentence. 

R v NG - Wolverhampton Crown Court - GBH, 2 x possession of machete

Ioana represented a 15 year old child involved in the stabbing of another child within a gang related background. Ioana's client had two previous convictions for possession of dangerous bladed articles, mostly machetes. 

R v AE - Worcester Crown Court - Armed robbery

Ioana represented the first on the Indictment in two armed robberies. Complex sentencing exercise, significant previous convictions, offending on license and consideration of dangerousness. The sentence was reopened under the slip rule and Ioana relied upon precedent case law to keep the sentence to a minimum of 8 ½ years (extended sentence).


R v RK – Chelmsford Magistrates Court

Following written representations drafted by Ioana, the police agreed to release £15,000 despite a finding that 21% of the notes were contaminated with cocaine at a significant level.

R v AC - Camberwell Green Magistrates Court

Successfully persuaded the tribunal on the balance of probabilities that C is entitled to reclaim his £12,000 in cash from the police. C was a Romanian citizen and was suspected of being part of a criminal organised group that was involved in stealing cards from nightclubs.


  • University College of London, LLM (2019)
  • City Law School, Bar Practice Training Course (2012)


Other Information

Ioana is a member of Gray's Inn, Criminal Bar Association and represents the junior tenants in the Chambers' Management Committee. 

Ioana speaks fluent Romanian and is often instructed in cases involving Romanian and Eastern European clients. She also speaks Spanish and German, as well as basic French.

During her first two years in chambers, Ioana completed an LLM at UCL. She has a keen interest in international and national security law, with a focus on cyber-crime and terrorism. She received a distinction for her thesis drafted on the ability of the UK to respond with force in self defence against the most serious of cyber-attacks that are attributed to hostile states and whether the law is clear enough to avoid an international conflict. 

In her free time, Ioana leads an active lifestyle and enjoys boxing, tennis and skiing. She has a keen interest in fashion and arts. 

Latest News

Ioana Nedelcu successfully defends in first ever modern slavery fraud case

February 10 2022

Ioana Nedelcu secured Not Guilty verdicts in a conspiracy to defraud Boots & Tesco and transfering the proceeds of crime. Ioana's client...

Ioana Nedelcu secures the acquittal of a young man in slavery and facilitation case

December 16 2021

Ioana appeared for the Appellant (a young man) in an appeal against conviction on slavery, facilitation, drugs supply and possession...

Ioana Nedelcu secures swift acquittal in money laundering case

October 06 2021

Ioana secured a swift Not Guilty verdict in a money laundering case involving the transportation of over £120,000 in cash...

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