Leeds barrister’s debut novel is story of death-drive trial

A Yorkshire criminal defence barrister has written his debut novel about a successful lawyer whose world comes crashing down after he is accused of killing a child in a car accident.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 21st July 2015, 7:29 pm
Olly Jarvis, whose debut novel is out this month
Olly Jarvis, whose debut novel is out this month

Death by Dangerous, set in Bradford and Manchester, draws on the experiences of Olly Jarvis, a criminal defence barrister at Exchange Chambers in Leeds.

Mr Jarvis is a specialist in defending death by dangerous driving cases and has previously represented clients including Janet McDonald, a multiple sclerosis sufferer who lost control of her specially adapted car and killed a pedestrian in Leeds.

His new fiction book, which took two years to complete, tells the story of a successful prosecution barrister, John Anderson, who faces a battle for survival after he is involved in a fatal road collision.

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According to the plot synopsis: “Facing charges of causing death by dangerous driving, the professional and personal life he once knew lies in tatters.”

Mr Jarvis, 48, a father-of-two who lives in Cheshire, said the book centres on “the relationship between a barrister and a solicitor, which is a complex relationship in the changing legal landscape.”

He started writing fiction after taking on one “particularly awful” death by dangerous driving case which made him realise he could not do it “week-in, week-out”.

He said: “I am very interested in death by dangerous driving cases, particularly because it is a normal person who is caught up in a moment of bad decision-making and the consequences for them and the other people involved are immense.

“I started doing the cases like most barristers, they came along once a year or so, and I found that despite my lack of car knowledge I was quite good at them. Insurance companies started to find out about me.

“The atmosphere in court when there has been a fatality is different from other kinds of cases. Also you need a real understanding of expert evidence, whether that is medical evidence or tachographs.”

He added: “I grew up reading Rumpole of the Bailey but there doesn’t seem to be anything now representing the contemporary justice system. It is not drinking in wine bars any more, it is hard work, I hope that is something that comes across.”

Death By Dangerous is released on July 28. Another book, Cut Throat Defence, about an inexperienced, newly-qualified barrister who gets caught up in a huge drugs conspiracy, is due out later.