Ioana Nedelcu

  • Year of Call 2012

Ioana has a busy defence practice and is regularly instructed in high-profile cases, representing defendants in complex people trafficking, drugs and dishonesty offences, punching well above her year of call.

Career Overview

Ioana is a determined and extremely able advocate who rapidly developed a practice in complex cases. She is quick to impress upon instructing solicitors and lay clients. She is commended for her thorough legal research and for going the extra mile by tailoring her approach to meet the client’s needs, giving each client the confidence that she will always do her utmost best.

Ioana is instructed in a broad range of criminal matters including people trafficking and modern slavery, dishonesty, drugs, violence and regulatory offences. She is a tenacious, hard-working barrister, particularly versed in disclosure issues, abilities that have led to her instruction in very complex cases from an early stage in her career. Ioana is fearless in cross examination and a charismatic advocate throughout. Her ability to engage with the jury has led to swift acquittals even in cases that are against the odds and instructing solicitors trust her to handle even the most complicated clients and cases. 

Ioana has a real eye for detail and she is the led junior of choice in any complex case, in particular those involving extensive telephone and banking material. She is often praised by solicitors and her leaders for her unmatched work ethic. Her ability to digest enormous amounts of information and remember the detail never fails to impress. She has been instructed in high profile cases, of which a significant number of drug conspiracies, murders and the largest people trafficking case to date in Europe. She is often led by QC in murder cases.

Ioana also represents Respondents in civil applications, such as forfeiture and Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders. She gives robust advice and drafts persuasive written representations often resulting in the conclusion of the case in her clients’ favour, against all odds.

Areas of Expertise

Ioana accepts instructions in the following areas:

  • General Crime;
  • Cyber Crime;
  • Financial Crime;
  • Sexual Offences;
  • Regulatory Offences;
  • Forfeiture;
  • Driving Offences;
  • Extradition;

Notable Cases

Led junior

Lincolnshire County Council v MW (September 2020) - Lincoln Crown Court

Led by Martin McCarthy in a 4 month trial in an alleged large-scale fraudulent mis-selling of numerous different types of purported energy saving products and warranties to elderly and vulnerable consumers.

R v NT [Operation Lapis] (July 2020) - Wolverhampton Crown Court

Instructed in the alleged gang related murder of a child.

R v YA [Operation Amazon] (April 2020) - Cardiff Crown Court

Led by Claire Davies in Operation Amazon where the Defendant is charged with a conspiracy to supply class A drugs (county line) and modern slavery offences.

R v YS [Operation Moselle] (February 2020) - Bradford Crown Court

Led by Baz Bhatia QC in Operation Moselle, where the Defendant is alleged to be the lead player in a large supply of cocaine. 21 kgs of cocaine, purity of up 97% seized

R v DB [Operation Ratio] (January 2020) - Wolverhampton Crown Court - Murder

Led by Baz Bhatia QC in Operation Ratio, where the Defendant and his nephew are accused of murdering a male and attempted to seriously injure another. Re-Trial listed in September 2020.

R v RM [Operation Gwendreath] (October 2019) - Southwark Crown Court - Conspiracy to steal

Led by Graham Arnold in Operation Gwendreath. The trial listed for 6 weeks involved five Defendants who allegedly conspired to steal high value cars in the area of £10 million and launder money. Jury discharged, to be tried in June 2020.

R v PH [Operation Cocoa] (July 2019) - Wolverhampton Crown Court - Murder involving extensive medical evidence

Led by Baz Bhatia 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 evidence that was challenged in court. Reported in the news, read more.

R v VL [Operation Cardinas] (April 2019) – Blackfriars Crown Court – successful half time submissions in a modern slavery & money laudering conspiracy

Led by Molly Pinkus in Operation Cardinas, a cross border investigation into modern slavery offences that involves both the British and the Romanian authorities. There are 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 is 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] (October 2018) – Birmingham Crown Court – modern slavery & money laundering conspiracy

Led by Martin McCarthy in 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.

R v SA [Operation Shine] (June 2018, retrial January 2019) – Bristol Crown Court – burglary & handling stolen goods conspiracy

Led by Graham Arnold 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.

R v SB [Operation Mohawk] (February 2018) – Worcester Crown Court – drugs conspiracy

Led by Edward McKiernan in a multi-handed class A drug conspiracy. Case involved over 100,000 pages of telephone evidence. Reported in the local news.

R v SN [Operation Iridium] (June 2017) – Wolverhampton Crown Court – drugs conspiracy

Led by Baz Bhatia QC. Operation Iridium involved a multi-handed class A drug conspiracy, and the first Defendant was also charged with possession of a firearm and perverting the course of justice. The case involved examination of call data, but also lengthy submissions on the category of the offending and totality of the sentence. The Defendant received a ten and a half years sentence Reported in the local news.

R v GP [Operation Dynamo] (November 2016) – Stafford Crown Court – drugs conspiracy

Led by Martin McCarthy in a multi-handed drugs conspiracy (class A and class B). The case involved detailed examination of the call and cell site data. GP was alleged to be the head of the Swadlincote conspiracy supplying M-cat to others. Reported in the local news.

Junior alone

R v VM (March 2020) - Northampton Crown Court - Conspiracy to steal livestock

Instructed in 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 AE (November 2019) - Worcester Crown Court - Armed robbery

Represents 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 ZE (July 2019) - Basildon Crown Court - Possession with intent to supply class A (cut-throat)

Two young men were accused of possessing class A drugs with intent to supply. ZE and his co-defendant were in a cut throat, as only one of them would have been able to bring the drugs at the location where they were apprehended by the police.

R v IR (June 2019) – Canterbury Crown Court – assisting illegal entry into the UK

Ioana was instructed in an alleged facilitation of illegal entry where the Crown’s case relies heavily on phone evidence.

The Crown’s case alleged that IR and his wife, agreed with an unknown Albanian male to conceal 3 Albanian nationals into the lorry IR was driving as part of a legitimate business and bring them into the UK.

Whilst there was no proof of contact between IR, CR and the three Albanian nationals in the back of the lorry, there was a common number, that was in significant contact with IR, CR and two of the three Albanian nationals. There were about 100 contacts (calls and texts) between CR and IR's phone with that common number.

The case involved over 10,000 pages of significant telephone evidence.

Hung jury in February 2019, retrial in June 2019.

R v DP (August 2018) – Isleworth Crown Court – perverting the course of justice, fraud & burglary

Ioana represented DP for three offences. First, the what is known as the Grenfell fraud [£40,000] when masquerading as a former Grenfell resident and pretending to have a friend of a person who had died in the fire. The second offence was that of committing a burglary of a dwelling during the course of the fraud, and thirdly, having been caught for the burglary, advancing wholly dishonest mitigation, again claiming a close connection with Grenfell to receive a much lower sentence that what would have been imposed in normal circumstances.

DP’s case received extensive media attention, in what was the worst yet Grenfell fraud, of course aggravated by the lies told to an entire courtroom when caught for a burglary that was committed whilst living in hotel accommodation paid by the Grenfell fund.

DP was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment. Reported in the news.

R v EI [Operation Buccina] (August 2018) – Inner London Crown Court – conspiracy to steal

Ioana represented a female Defendant who was accused of a conspiracy to steal over £1,000,000 worth of jewellery. The Defendant, first on the Indictment, 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 the 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 AL (April 2018) – Snaresbrook Crown Court – rape and sexual assault

Secured acquittal of a young man due to commence university who charged with rape and sexual assault by penetration of a school friend.

R v OS (February 2018) – Inner London Crown Court – money laundering

Ioana represented OS in this sophisticated, 20,000-page money laundering case. OS was investigated for laundering money that originated from an international large-scale fraud. The defence was a complex one, as the Defendant was running a money transfer business between two jurisdictions.

R v PM (August 2017) – Snaresbrook Crown Court – violent disorder and possession of a weapon

Allegation of violent disorder and possession of an offensive weapon. It was alleged that PM and his brother were seeking revenge against a group of youths that have bullied their family. One of the brothers entered a Guilty plea at an earlier stage to possession of a samurai sword.

PM, who was in proximity to his brothers, in possession of a snooker cue was acquitted after trial.

R v SO (June 2017) – Snaresbrook Crown Court – going equipped to steal

SO was charged with going equipped after he was stopped in a car with his co-defendant. The master key that would open a large number of post boxes in a residential complex of flats was found in the possession of SO together with a large number of keys that were found in the car.

Ioana also represented OS for an appeal against sentence in the Court of Appeal: [2017] EWCA Crim 1563

R v IK (May 2017) – St. Albans Crown Court – aggravated burglary

Ioana secured the acquittal of an 18-year-old charged with aggravated burglary. L admitted having lied in the police interview and changed his oral evidence from his defence statement that was signed on the first day of the trial.

R v VJ (September 2016) – Caernarfon Crown Court – cultivation of cannabis

VJ stood charged with cultivation of cannabis (335 plants found at an apartment in Wrexham) after he was found shirtless in an apartment that resembled a cannabis jungle. Acquitted in 30 minutes. Reported in the local news.

R v SA (August 2016) – Caernarfon Crown Court - Assisting illegal entry into the UK

Ioana represented SA for assisting illegal immigration into the UK.

Regulatory offences

R v MK (August 2018) – Snaresbrook Crown Court – fly tipping

Ioana represented MK and his company for what is commonly known as the fly tipping offence. Ioana drafted written representations on the evidence at the Codes of Practice arguing that there is no prospect of conviction and persuaded the council to drop the charges before the trial.

R v RB (October 2017) – Southend Crown Court – breach of fire brigade prohibition

Instructed to represent a restaurant owner charged with four breaches of a prohibition imposed by the Essex fire brigade.


R v SN (2018) – Wolverhampton Crown Court

The Crown’s initial finding of the benefit of a drugs conspiracy was over £1,318,000 but it was lowered to £353,000 after oral representations and the instruction of a drugs’ valuation expert.

R v AD (2017) – Northampton Crown Court

Order agreed following successful representations. The final benefit figure was reduced by in excess of £10 million and the available amount was reduced by in excess of £5,000. Case involved examination of banking records, as well as handwritten records of the drug trafficking debt.


R v RK (2018) – 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 (2016) - 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.

Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders

R v RO (2019) - Luton Magistrates Court

Ioana is currently representing three Romanian citizens that are under investigation for slavery offences. She successfully negotiated an interim Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order that is suitable for her clients and permits them to travel and retain their passport.

R v MC (2017) - Birmingham Magistrates Court

Ioana represented MC who was at the time on police bail for the largest modern slavery investigation.

Driving offences

R v A (2018) – Luton Magistrates Court – failure to provide a specimen

The Defendant had a documented history of asthma. He failed to blow into the breathalyzer and the police officer refused to offer a blood sample instead. The Defendant accepted that he was drunk as part of his defence. The argument was purely legal, based on the expert’s evidence that was provided on behalf of A. The DJ acquitted stating the following: “One's instinct and gut is to find against the Defendant. This is one of the least attractive defences that I have seen in my career. I must resist instinct and look at the law as pointed out to me and look at the evidence. I must make a determination based on the law.”

R v K (2017) – Basildon Magistrates Court – driving whilst disqualified

K pleaded Guilty to his second driving whilst disqualified and had three previous convictions from drinking under the influence of alcohol. He was sentenced to a fine.

R v C (2016) – Bexleyheath Magistrates Court – driving without insurance

Following successful interrogation of the witnesses and presentation of the evidence, the Bench found that there are special reasons not to impose any points in a driving without insurance case. Absolute discharge.

R v D (2016) – Highbury Corner Magistrates Court

Failure to provide a specimen; D was charged with failure to provide a specimen. The Bench dismissed the charge at the conclusion of the Crown’s case after a successful application of no case to answer.


  • University College of London, LLM (2019) awarded a Distinction in her Dissertation on cyber-attacks in an international context
  • City Law School, Bar Practice Training Course (2012)
  • City University, LLB Degree (2:1) (2011)

Other Information

Ioana completed her pupillage at Farringdon Chambers, under the supervision of Martin Mccarthy. She is a member of the Gray’s Inn and also of the Criminal Bar Association. She is also a member of the management committee in chambers, representing the junior members under 8 years call.

Having been born in Bucharest, Romania, Ioana speaks fluent Romanian and is often instructed in cases involving Romanian and Eastern European clients. She also speaks Spanish and German at an intermediate level.

Ioana has a keen interest in international law and national security law, with a focus on cyber-crime and terrorism. She received a distinction for her UCL LLM thesis on the ability of the UK to act 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.

Ioana leads an active lifestyle and enjoys tennis. She likes to think that she is a professional skier, passion that was fueled during her years of education in the Swiss Alps. She loves art and anything linked to fashion and enjoys the opera and the theatre.

Latest News

Ioana Nedelcu represents man in the highly publicised Northamptonshire sheep slaughter

March 30 2020

Viorel Manu was one of the three men who pleaded Guilty to the conspiracy to steal a large number of...

Defendant acquitted in art heist

November 06 2019

Following a successful half time submission after six weeks of prosecution evidence, Graham Arnold leading Ioana Nedelcu secured the acquittal...

Largest modern slavery conspiracy in Europe

July 26 2019

Martin McCarthy leading Ioana Nedelcu and Claire Davies leading Greg Krieger appear for the first and...

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