Called to the Bar: 1999
Appointed Senior Counsel: 2019
Richard Pontello specialises in the conduct of criminal trials in the District and Supreme Courts. In those Courts he has represented persons charged with a broad range of serious indictable offences, including murder and terrorism. He has appeared in numerous complex and high profile cases, including one of the longest running trials in New South Wales Supreme Court history, involving nine accused charged under Federal terrorism legislation resulting from Operation Pendennis: see R (Cth) v Baladjam & Ors  NSWSC 1458; (2008) 270 ALR 187. In 2013 he appeared in the Supreme Court in a multiple accused trial involving a riot and the destruction by fire of a large portion of the Villawood Immigration Detention Centre: R v Abdollahi & Ors  NSWSC 485; (2013) 228 A Crim R 476. He has also represented several high-profile athletes in the Local and District Courts.
Although specialising in the conduct of criminal trials, Richard has on many occasions appeared successfully in the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal, and in the High Court of Australia in IL v The Queen  HCA 27; (2017) 262 CLR 268, a case involving constructive murder where Richard successfully defended the charge at first instance in the Supreme Court.
Richard has a particular interest in DNA evidence and has successfully defended persons charged with offences where DNA evidence was in issue, including as trial counsel at first instance in the matter of R v GK  NSWCCA 413; (2001) 53 NSWLR 317, a case concerning the admissibility of statistical evidence interpreting DNA testing, to which objection had successfully been taken at trial. He has presented papers on the topic of DNA evidence. Richard has also appeared as prosecutor for WorkCover NSW in the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission and for local government authorities in the Local and Land and Environment Courts.
He is on the Legal Aid Specialist Panels for both complex criminal and appellate matters and regularly appears in legally aided cases in the higher courts.