Margaret Cunneen SC

Call 1990 / Silk 2007


Margaret has been briefed in a plethora of high-profile criminal law matters, inquiries and coronial inquests. She has been long recognised in legal directories as a leading criminal law Senior Counsel.

Called to the Bar in 1990 and appointed a Senior Counsel in 2007, Margaret has enjoyed a long career as a Crown Prosecutor and Deputy Senior Crown Prosecutor. During this time, she has prosecuted hundreds of judge only and jury criminal trials and appeals in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal and High Court of Australia.

Since joining State Chambers in 2019, Margaret has developed a solid practice defending indictable criminal matters concerning serious allegations such murder, manslaughter and aggravated sexual assault, in the Supreme Court of New South Wales and District Court of New South Wales.

Margaret holds several significant appointments in recognition of her seniority and contribution to the law, including the President of the Rule of Law Education Centre. Notably, she was previously the Commissioner of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into the investigation of child sexual abuse allegations in the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle. Prior to being called to the Bar, Margaret worked as an Industrial Officer at the Public Service Board in New South Wales, and held positions in the Attorney General’s Ministerial Office and in the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office of NSW.

Margaret has authored a book entitled “The Boxing Butterfly. A Life of Conviction”, which was first published in 2022. She holds a Master of Laws and a Bachelor of Laws.

Principal Areas Of Practice

Select Matters (Prosecution Cases)

  • R v William Matheson, Supreme Court, Sydney 2005
    The accused was found guilty of the murder of Disney cartoonist Lyndsay Van Blanken, whose body was found in a cricket bag at Queens Park.
  • R v Mark Caleo, Supreme Court, Sydney 2018
    Prosecuted the accused for the 1993 murders of Mrs Rita Caleo at Double Bay and her brother, Dr Michael Chye, at Woollahra.
  • R v DL, Supreme Court, Sydney 2008
    The accused was found guilty of the murder of 15 year old Tania Burgess, who was stabbed to death as she walked home from scholl at Foresters Beach.
  • R v Dr Graeme Reeves, District Court, Sydney 2011
    The accused was found guilty of the genital mutilation of a patient after having excised her entire genitalia without medical justification.
  • R v Bilal Skaf, Mohammed Skaf & Ors, Sydney District Court 2002
    The 5 accused were found guilty of multiple gang rapes in south-western Sydney, which took place in the weeks before the Sydney Olympic Games.
  • R v Robert (Dolly) Dunn. R v Phillip Bell, Sydney District Court 1999-2000
    Prosecuted prodigious pedophiles including Dunn and Bell for their sexual assaults upon numerous boys which occurred during the 1960s and 70s. They died in prison.

Select Matters (Defence Cases)

  • R v Kulwinder Singh, Supreme Court, Sydney, 2021
    My client, Mr Singh was found not guilty, by a jury, of murdering his wife after all forensic evidence indicated self-harm.
  • R v Wang Jing, District Court, Sydney, 2020
    My client, a Chinese movie producer on trial, with a Chinese movie star Gavin Gao, for sexual assault. The complainant was a woman with whom they had been filming a movie in Sydney who had gone to their hotel, inviting one of the men to the room of the other.
    When she came home late, her husband called the police and she claimed she had been raped. Both men were found not guilty by a jury.
  • R v Omar Omar, Supreme Court, Sydney, 2022
    My client was charged with shooting dead a man who had driven to his home intending to shoot my client’s brother. He was found not guilty by the jury when the prosecution evidence was found to be insufficient to prove any case against him.
  • R v MG, District Court, Sydney, 2021
    My client was charged with sexually assaulting a young women who had invited him to her home to have sexual intercourse. She was found, after subpoena, to have made false allegations against another man. Mr G was found not guilty of all charges by a jury.
  • R v SM, District Court, Parramatta, 2023
    My client, a young solicitor, had been charged with sexually assaulting another solicitor who had sought to remain with him in the office for many hours into the night. The trial revealed that the complainant was involved in an intimate relationship with a more senior solicitor and was not dependant on the accused for her employment, as she had falsely claimed. My client was found not guilty by the jury.
  • R v Blake Davis, Supreme Court, Sydney, 2020
    My client killed a man by striking his head with a Samurai sword. The man had invaded my client’s home, brandishing a gun, and punched my client in the eye with knuckle-dusters, rendering him momentarily unconscious. When he came to, he could hear his partner screaming from down the street. He picked up the nearest object he could use, a ceremonial sword on display just inside his front door. My client was found not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter. He was of otherwise good character and was sentenced to just over 2 years’ custody. He has recently been released and is starting a new life in a country location.
  • R v Kurtley Beale, District Court, Sydney 2024
    Mr Beale was found not guilty of alleged sexual assault after a 4 week trial and an hour’s deliberation by the jury.
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