Your Criminal Defence Team

If you are accused of a criminal offence, you need a specialist criminal lawyer in your corner. With some of the most highly regarded lawyers in Sydney and Canberra, our team of criminal lawyers will provide you with comprehensive, honest and strategic advice.

Carol Younes
Partner — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0404 056 777

Carol is an Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law and founding partner of Hugo Law Group. She has been consistently recognised in the Doyles Guide as one of Australia’s preeminent criminal lawyers.

Carol appears in the superior and appellate courts in some of the most notorious criminal cases. She works tirelessly on matters representing clients charged with murder, serious sex offences, complex frauds, tax evasions, drug manufacture, supply and importation, and terrorism offences. She also appears in complex hearings, sentence proceedings and bail applications.

She was nominated for Criminal Law Partner of the Year in the 2022 Lawyers Weekly Awards.

Carol recognises the need to always think two steps ahead and to ensure her clients are making the right decisions early on. She is best known for her persuasive advocacy, strategic thinking and determination to win every case. She understands the need to help her clients navigate their way through what is often one of the most challenging times in their life. Her clients feel supported and confident having her on their team.

Adrian McKenna
Partner — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0476 521 151

Adrian has worked exclusively in private practice in criminal law through his legal career. With more than a decade of experience he is a renowned expert in the field. Clients have sought out Adrian’s experience and specialised skills for some of Canberra’s most high profile and complex murder, fraud and sexual assault matters. He is a founding partner of Hugo Law Group. 

Adrian was previously an Associate to a judge of the ACT Supreme Court and worked on the defence team of Radovan Karadzic, President of the Former Bosnian-Serb Republic, at the Yugoslavia International War Crimes Tribunal. 

Adrian has been recognised as a preeminent lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide for Canberra Criminal Defence Lawyers. He is an Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law, a member of the ACT Law Society’s Criminal Law Committee and a regular commentator on legal reform issues. He is entrusted with representing clients facing charges amongst the most serious in the criminal calendar.

Karen Espiner
Partner — Perth


t. (08) 6255 6909
m. 0451 776 242

Karen Espiner is a NSW Accredited Specialist in Criminal Law and founding partner at Hugo Law Group. She was named Criminal Law Partner of the Year in the 2020 Lawyers Weekly Awards.

Since 2016 she has been consistently recognised by other lawyers in the Doyle’s Guide as one of the best criminal lawyers in both Sydney and Australia. In 2023 she moved to WA to lead the opening of the Perth office.

Much of Karen’s practice is devoted to representing clients who have been charged with serious criminal offences including murder, sexual assault, drug supply/manufacture, serious assaults and money laundering. She appears in other jurisdictions including the WA Corruption and Crime Commission and State Administrative Tribunal for clients whose professional reputations are at risk. She also has a significant appellate practice, providing advice and representation to clients seeking to appeal their conviction and/or sentence to the Court of Appeal (WA) or Court of Criminal Appeal (NSW).

Recognising the value of professional collaboration and teamwork, she works closely with other lawyers in the firm to ensure her clients receive the highest level of service. Known for her meticulous preparation and persuasive advocacy, she is well respected by other lawyers, barristers and Judges.

Tom Taylor
Partner — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0401 439 363

Tom is widely regarded as one of the most talented and successful criminal defence lawyers in Canberra and the surrounding regions. He has earnt the respect of clients, lawyers and judges through years of dedicated practice to this niche area of the law. 

With years of experience in criminal defence firms in Sydney and country NSW and through his time in the Australian Army he knows the right time to bring an aggressive approach. He has a reputation for winning the unwinnable matters and is the unquestionable lawyer of choice for clients facing a serious matter.  

Tom has a unique talent in making real connections with his clients and earning their trust. He has an impressive combination of street smarts and a fighting spirit that makes him the perfect fit for hearings and trials.

Before joining the legal profession he worked in sports management and as a professional lifeguard in Australia and Japan. Tom has been repeatedly voted as a preeminent lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide for Canberra Criminal Defence Lawyers. In 2024 he was named Criminal Law Partner of the Year in the 2024 Lawyer’s Weekly Awards.

Helen Christinson
Partner — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0449 686 371

Helen is an experienced advocate who brings compassion, positivity and a sharp legal mind to every matter.

In 2023 Helen was recognised by members of the profession as a Recommended Lawyer in the Doyle’s Guide Leading Lawyers Listings for Criminal Lawyers in Sydney. She was also nominated as a New Partner of the Year in the 2024 Lawyer’s Weekly Awards.

Whether appearing in Coronial inquests, bail applications, sentence matters, defended hearings or other applications in the Children’s Court or Local Court, conviction and severity appeals in the District Court, or high-profile trial and sentence matters for State and Commonwealth offences, Helen is a detail-focused, empathetic, energised and tenacious advocate.

Helen ensures her clients understand the nature of their charges, providing them with clear information to help them make informed choices about how to progress their matter. She is known for her succinct and effective advocacy, common-sense approach to analysing evidence and thorough preparation in support of each and every case.

Stephanie Beckedahl
Senior Associate — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0459 957 840

Stephanie started her criminal law career in NSW. Since then, she has practiced exclusively as a criminal defence lawyer in both NSW and the ACT, appearing in court on an almost daily basis. 

She is an experienced and highly skilled solicitor-advocate who is regularly called on to appear in complex criminal hearings, as well as to instruct barristers in District/Supreme Court trials involving charges such as sexual assault, drug trafficking and fraud. 

In 2023 Stephanie was recognised by members of the profession as a Leading Criminal Defence Lawyer in the 2023 Doyle’s Guide – Canberra and was nominated as a Finalist for the Criminal Law 30 under 30 Awards.

Stephanie is a fierce advocate who works doggedly for her clients both inside and out of the courtroom. Keen to always achieve the best possible outcomes for her clients, she has a history of success running contested hearings, particularly in matters where she is advancing technical and legal arguments. She tailors her approach for every client, understanding that each case is unique and each client has different needs and expectations .

Damien Mahon
Senior Associate — Northern NSW

Northern NSW

t. (07) 5552 1902
m. 0410 883 533

Damien provides representation and advice in all areas of State and Commonwealth criminal law. As a confident and proficient advocate, Damien has demonstrated success acting in a diverse range of matters including murder and offences of violence, terrorism offences, sexual assault, drug offences, fraud and white-collar crime.

Damien has successfully defended a large volume of contested matters. He has a strong understanding of the rules of evidence and subjects all material relied upon by the prosecution to a high level of scrutiny.

In sentence matters, Damien has an aptitude for identifying mitigating factors and extenuating circumstances which are favourable to his clients and promote the need for leniency and rehabilitation in place of punishment.

Damien has a genuine passion for criminal defence law. He provides timely, clear and considered advice and works tenaciously to obtain positive results for his clients.

Rachel Fisher
Associate — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0429 954 848

Rachel started her career in criminal law as an Associate to Magistrate Louise Taylor (now Justice Taylor) prior to transitioning into practice exclusively in criminal defence law. She has appeared in many complex and high-profile matters.

She is an experienced solicitor with extensive work in charges of family violence, sexual assault, dishonesty offences and drug related matters. Rachel brings with her experience from the Aboriginal Legal Service, Attorney-General’s Department and as a Sessional Academic in Evidence Law with the University of Canberra.

In 2023, Rachel was recognised by members of the profession as a Criminal Law Rising Star in the 2023 Doyles Guide – ACT & NSW. She has built a reputation in Canberra as an exceptional advocate in court, and trusted lawyer for her many clients over the years.

Jordan Portokalli
Associate — Sydney

Jordan has a successful history of defending clients charged with a wide range of serious criminal offences. He appears in all criminal jurisdictions in NSW.

Jordan believes that everyone deserves for their voice to be heard and is passionate about hearing his clients’ side of the story.

With Jordan, you can expect a lawyer who will prioritise your case, up to date with all current laws, be accommodating to your stresses, and be present with you every step of the way, from the initial charge phase to the resolution of your case. Jordan takes great pride in his role as a criminal defence lawyer, which is reflected in being awarded a Doyle’s Guide Rising Star in the legal profession

Lindsay Stankovic
Associate — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0460 425 610


Lindsay understands how daunting it is to be charged with a criminal offence and takes pride in guiding her clients through the process using an empathetic and diligent approach. She provides clear and tailored advice to ensure her clients understand their options and achieve fair and just results.

Lindsay appears regularly in NSW Courts, advocating for her clients in a range of matters including release applications, sentences, defended hearings and applications for Apprehended Violence Orders. She is focused and attentive, working with her clients to ensure the Court understands their circumstances, and the unique aspects of their case. If your matter is complex, Lindsay will engage a leading criminal barrister to ensure you are properly defended.

In 2023 Lindsay’s success as a criminal defence lawyer was recognised with her nomination as a Finalist in the Lawyers Weekly 30 Under 30 Awards in Criminal Law

Prior to joining Hugo Law Group, Lindsay completed an associateship in the District Court and worked in commercial litigation.

Elleni Zacharia
Senior Lawyer — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0416 338 779

Elleni has a deep understanding of criminal law and procedure, advocacy and strategy through exposure to a wide range of criminal matters. She has practiced exclusively as a criminal defence lawyer in her legal career. She has worked in a number of high-profile and complex matters, including murder and sexual assault.

Elleni regularly appears in all jurisdictions across NSW in applications, hearings, sentences, trials and appeals. She also has interstate experience in Queensland.

Achieving the best outcome for our clients is Elleni’s paramount concern. As a passionate and persuasive advocate, scrutinising and challenging the merits of the prosecution’s brief of evidence is one of her favourite parts of the job. When required in complex matters, Elleni effectively works alongside barristers to achieve successful outcomes for our clients.

Elleni will navigate you through what can be a daunting legal process with expertise, empathy and an unwavering dedication to defending your rights.

Max Haesler
Senior Lawyer — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0459 952 484

Max’s legal career began as an advice worker in the community legal sector. It was in this role that he developed a passion for ensuring that the rights and interests of his clients were properly protected.

Before joining Hugo Law Group Max’s experience in criminal law began in his role as an Associate to a judge of the ACT Supreme Court. Working in that role for 18 months, he has a detailed insight into court process and advocacy. He holds a Juris Doctor at the Australian National University and a Bachelor of Health Science. This gives him the edge in complex criminal matters involving medical evidence.

Max has a keen eye for detail, meticulous research skills, and a paramount focus on achieving the best possible outcome in court. As an advocate he dedicates his practice to ensuring each of his matters is dealt with fairly and impartially.

Isha Fay
Senior Lawyer — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0416 657 399


Isha is a determined and strategic advocate who is committed to achieving the best outcome for her clients. She understands the importance of advancing your matter with tenacity, sensitivity and compassion. She is highly approachable and takes the time to explain the legal process clearly and comprehensively.

Isha has a wide range of experience in criminal law and has appeared in the NSW Local, District and Supreme Court in bail applications, sentences, appeals and defended hearings. She has also instructed counsel in high-profile and complex trials.

Prior to joining Hugo Law Group, Isha worked as a prosecutor at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and as a defence solicitor at Legal Aid. This places her in a unique position to critically analyse the strengths of a case from both perspectives.

Isha has also worked as a Judge’s Associate in the District Court and has completed a Master of Law (Criminal Practice) with Distinction from the University of Wollongong.

Joshua O’Rahilly-Hadley
Lawyer — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0406 272 559

Joshua is an empathetic lawyer who is passionate about defending his clients’ interests. With his wealth of experience and diverse skills, Joshua helps his clients navigate the justice system and achieve the best possible outcome. He is a confident advocate and regularly appears in Local, District and Supreme Courts in a range of matters.

Joshua understands the stress of being charged with a criminal offence. He provides clear advice and ensures his clients understand their options. He brings integrity, compassion and legal acumen to his matters.

Before joining Hugo Law Group, Joshua was a Senior Federal Prosecutor at the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. In his time as a prosecutor, Joshua prosecuted complex multi-accused matters involving offences such as terrorism, large-scale drug importations and money laundering by international criminal syndicates. Prior to this, Joshua was a Senior Lawyer at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, where he investigated corporate misconduct and provided strategic legal advice. He also has experience in mental health and drug and alcohol policy, and worked as a case manager at the Department of Communities and Justice, where he participated in the inner workings of the NSW probation and parole system.

Mitchell Greig
Lawyer — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0459 953 234

Mitchell’s journey began as a police officer, where he sharpened his investigative skills and built his experience in taking a meticulous approach to cases.

This foundation forms the bedrock of his legal career, allowing him a unique insight in understanding law enforcement and, in particular, where weaknesses or issues may arise in evidence.

Mitchell also has experience as a prosecutor, working in a number of high-profile and complex matters, and has an academic background that includes psychology. He is able to take an empathetic approach to his clients and understand their perspective.

No matter how serious or complex the matter, Mitchell rigorously advocates for his client’s rights and interests.

Callum Parker
Lawyer — Perth


t. (08) 6255 6909
m. 0460 578 326

Callum’s enthusiasm for the law is fuelled by a desire to protect and defend the rights of each of his clients.

Before joining Hugo Law Group, Callum graduated with a Bachelor of Laws from Curtin University. He then worked as an Associate to a District Court Judge. In that role he developed a comprehensive understanding of a wide range of criminal matters and gained valuable insights into court processes and procedures. After finishing his tenure at the District Court, Callum worked as a Lawyer in one of Perth’s most well-regarded private criminal law firms, Seamus Rafferty + Associates. In that role Callum regularly appeared in the Magistrates Court and District Court, managing a busy workload, and further developing his advocacy skills.

As well as being an approachable and persuasive advocate, one of Callum’s main strengths lies in his ability to analyse complex problems and develop a clear and concise case strategy. Callum appears in a range of matters in the Magistrates Court and District Court including serious offences, sentencings, bail applications and traffic matters.

Tom Tiffen-Oakes
Lawyer — Canberra


t. (02) 5104 9640
m. 0459 957 660

With studies in both criminology and criminal law Thomas has a deep understanding of what makes people tick in this industry. 

He has legal experience that covers a wide variety of criminal and protection matters and so he knows what is important when it comes to your case. He has many years’ management experience in the hospitality industry and his calming presence is a valuable asset to Hugo Law Group. Graduating with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the Australian National University and completing his Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice with the College of Law, Tom has the knowledge and drive necessary to get you the best result possible.

Ben Woodward
Graduate Lawyer — Sydney


t. (02) 9696 1361
m. 0452 274 846

Ben is focused and considered in his approach to practice, frequently resulting in favourable results for his clients. His ability to adapt to new situations and changing demands gives him an edge as he appears in the courtroom and works on matters in the office.

After initially joining Hugo Law Group as a paralegal, Ben has progressed to now being one of our valued lawyers. In his time with Hugo, he has developed a strong understanding of criminal law and procedure. His meticulous preparation and confidence on his feet makes him an outstanding advocate.

Ben also has previous experience in Family and Commercial Law settings and brings his knowledge in these areas where it crosses over into criminal law matters.

Important Information Regarding the Use of the Term ‘Partner’

Hugo Law Group is an incorporated legal practice which is a corporation for the purposes of the Corporations Act 2001. The use of the title ‘Partner’ by a lawyer in this practice is used to denote seniority and does not and is not intended to signify that the practice is contracting otherwise than as a corporation. For the avoidance of doubt, any such title does not and is not intended to signify that a partnership within the definition of the Partnership Act exists at law.


I would like to thank Damien for making this difficult and stressful times so much easier by his wealth of knowledge and helping me through this difficult time. When I first met Damien he made me feel very comfortable and confident he can deliver a good result, which he did. I am very glad I met the right lawyer to handle my case. Thank you for all your efforts and support. Kind Regards,


Hi Max, I really want to thank you for being supportive, honest and having the best interest of the girls at the forefront of this matter. You are an amazing lawyer.

Kind regards, KP

Many thanks again for your thorough attention and assistance in achieving the positive conclusion this week. I am truly grateful for the prompt, professional and diligent effort that all of you provided, and for having taken over the matter with a relatively short time to prepare.

TK about Helen Christinson

Karen, Thank you for your professionalism, hard work, support, advice and care for my court matter. The result yesterday was the best possible outcome and I am still pinching myself. The frightful and emotionally-charged nature of this case, for me, found great solitude in your listening ears and you collected the best possible material to support the section 32 application. I truly appreciate your diligent preparation and the ability to fight what seemed like a lost cause.

A.V. (September 2018)

Hi Carol, Thanks for your outstanding work throughout the whole process, I never doubted your work or advice.  The whole experience certainly opened my eyes and mind to say the least and has changed the way I look at people and things. I was totally speechless at the end so apologies if I didn’t show much gratitude. Thank you very very much


Dear Tom. Thanks for being real and non-judgmental and supportive. You have changed my life in so many ways and I’m so grateful.


I made contact with Adrian McKenna who successfully represented me. I was very impressed with Adrian. He was clear and concise in all our communication. At our initial meeting he outlined what he could do to assist, what the possible outcomes might be and what the costs would be. He was thorough in his preparation and prompt in returning calls and sending copies of correspondence.


Dear Stephanie, thank you so much for your hard work and understanding. Very much appreciate it. This is all a huge relief and vindication. I hope this is the end of the matter and I can move on with my life.

All the best, O.

Sincere thanks Adrian. Much appreciated. You gave us confidence prior to, and during, the Court proceedings. You were very impressive. Congratulations!


“We recently had to engage Stephanie from Hugo Law for a matter and from the onset Stephanie was great to deal with. Stephanie assisted in understanding what was required with our matter and talked us through every step from our first meeting and court attendance.  We can’t speak highly enough of Stephanie and the team at Hugo Law.”


Adrian, from a position of thinking it was not worth defending to a successful outcome in the end (with all three charges being withdrawn) made me feel like hugging the Hugo team members, which is exactly what I did!


Hi, Thomas  Thank you for your effort and time helping me get through this difficult time, I really appreciate your work and support.


I would like to thank Rebecca for a job well done during my court case. She was really amazing and professional and made sure that I understood everything. She really assured me that my case was not the worst of the worst. A good outcome for me due to her efforts. I wont hesitate to recommend her to anyone who need services.


Dear Carol, Thank you for all your hard work, we really appreciate the dedication and care you gave to us. Our family really appreciate it and it has made a significant difference to all of us. All the best.

M., V. & M.

I have had experience with many legal professionals in my wider career, typically for commercial matters. I never expected to need to instruct a criminal lawyer but choosing Karen Espiner was the best decision I could have made. What impressed me most about Karen was the way that she made me feel completely at ease when discussing my matter. I never felt judged and, as a result, always had the utmost confidence in her advice. She was able to manage the process to deliver the best possible outcome in my case and I truly put that down to her excellent legal, personal and professional skills. I would recommend Karen to anyone who asks; there is a reason that she is rated as one of the top criminal lawyers in NSW. I will always be grateful. Thanks Karen.

Helen Christinson, she is professional, efficient, helpful, very organised and most importantly she made me feel at ease despite my situations. She has always achieved to get me the best result and outcome on all my cases. Helen helped me out so much when I was nervous, stressed out but made me feel comfortable and confident in every matter. She has always went above and beyond to get my situations resolved for me and she has always taken the extra time needed in my cases. Thank you soo much Helen Christinson and her team Hugo law group for the outstanding results.


This is a very professional and competent outfit. What stood out for me was the immediate sense of trust that I gathered from people like Damien. When I initially contacted Damien he offered some verbal advice and he was very generous with his time. For me it was an easy decision to return to Hugo for additional support going forward. The team has been very communicative through out the journey and has prioritised my best interests the entire time. I’m very happy with the outcome that we derived together and Hugo deserve credit for leaving no stone unturned. Having formed a relationship of great trust Hugo are now my go-to lawyers.