Cassandra DeMelo founded DeMelo Heathcote in 2014 as a means of ensuring that all individuals across London and Southwestern Ontario are represented fairly before the courts. Katie Heathcote joined her in partnership in 2022, bringing her expertise, passion, and shared values to the firm. Learn more about the firm below, or contact us to get started immediately.

About Cassandra

She/Her

Founding Partner

Cassandra DeMelo is a native of London, Ontario, who is fluent in Portuguese and conversational in Spanish. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University) in Criminal Justice, she returned to her hometown for law school. She received her Juris Doctor from Western Law. She thanks the Legal Aid clinic at Western, Community Legal Services, for the fantastic training she was given by them as a student.

After law school, she articled with Lerners LLP. Since being admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2013, she has practiced exclusively in criminal law – a life-long aspiration for her. Cassandra is honoured to be serving her hometown as a criminal defence attorney.

Cassandra holds her Masters of Law from Western University on the issue of mental health and bail hearings. She is currently a PhD student at Western Law, focusing on drug reform. She is a lecturer at Western Law, teaching the book she co-authored for LexisNexis: “Law and Mental Health in Canada: Cases and Materials”.

Cassandra appears regularly before the Ontario Court of Justice and Superior Court of Justice throughout southwestern Ontario. She also appears before the Ontario Review Board regularly. Finally, she has appeared at all levels of appeal court, including the Ontario Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Cassandra is the President of the London Criminal Lawyers’ Association, a founding member and treasurer for Women in Canadian Criminal Defence (WiCCD – pronounced “wicked”), and the previous Vice President and now London Director for the Criminal Lawyers’ Association. She is a Director for St. Joseph’s Hospice, and for the Montessori Academy of London.

When Cassandra isn’t practicing law, she spends time with her husband, Josh, who also owns his own business as a Personal Trainer.  She is an avid dancer, enjoys travelling the world, and loves sharing good food with her large Portuguese family.

About Katie

She/Her

Partner

Katie Heathcote is a native of Windsor, Ontario. She studied Criminology, Sociology, and French at the University of Windsor, graduating with an Honours Bachelor of Arts. Katie earned a Canadian law degree at the University of Windsor and an American law degree at the University of Detroit Mercy in 2017. In law school, Katie focused her studies in criminal law and volunteered at the Community Legal Aid Clinic.

Katie worked as an articling student at a well-known criminal defence firm in Windsor and was admitted to the Bar of Ontario in June of 2018. She subsequently worked as an associate lawyer at DeMelo Law for four years before becoming partner in October of 2022.

Katie is the London Regional Director of the provincial Criminal Lawyers’ Association and the Social Director of the London Criminal Lawyers’ Association.  Katie sits on the Board of Directors for Big Brothers and Big Sisters of London and Area, is a member of the Governance Committee for that organization, as well as a dedicated “Big Sister”.

Outside of practicing law, Katie enjoys cooking, travelling and spending time with her family, friends and her miniature Yorkie, Czechy (“Checky”).

About Kristine

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Associate Lawyer

Kristine Murphy calls London, Ontario home. After obtaining her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice and Peace Studies and Philosophy from Western University, she went on to complete law school at the University of Leicester in England.

Upon returning to Canada, Kristine completed her articles at an insurance company here in London. She was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2019. She has now made the switch from the insurance defence industry to pursue a long-lived aspiration to practice criminal law.

In her spare time, Kristine enjoys playing ball hockey, travelling, camping, and spending time with friends and family.

About Tayzia

She/Her

Associate Lawyer

Tayzia Collesso was born and raised in Guelph, Ontario. She graduated with an Honours Specialization in Psychology in 2017 and throughout the completion of this degree, she fell in love with the London community. She made London her home for 6 years subsequent to this and completed her Juris Doctor at Western Law in 2022. While at Western Law, Tayzia dedicated her studies to the field of criminal law, and her time towards raising awareness and advocating for the rights of underprivileged populations. She was actively involved in the Community Legal Services Clinic and received the Gretta J. Grant Prize in Community Legal Service at her convocation. Further, she was the Vice President of Communications for the Black Law Students’ Association – Western Chapter from 2020 to 2022.

During her free time, Tayzia enjoys playing soccer, dancing, and spending time with her family and friends.

About Kennedy

She/Her

Associate Lawyer

Kennedy Neustaeter is an Edmonton, Alberta native. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (with Distinction) from the University of Alberta in 2020.  She has since made London home and is completing her law degree at Western University.

Kennedy has dedicated her time throughout law school to bettering the lives of her peers and members of the community. She has been involved with both clinics at the school – Community Legal Services and Sport Solution. She is the President of Western Law’s student government, the Student Legal Society, and has been involved all three years of her legal studies. In this role, Kennedy advocates for various student needs and initiatives. 

Kennedy is working part-time during her third year with DeMelo Heathcote, and looks forward to completing her articles with them in 2023/2024.

Outside of the office, Kennedy enjoys going out with her friends and family, attending concerts, playing golf, and cheering on the Edmonton Oilers. 

About Aiden

He/Him

Paralegal

Aiden Ross is happy to now call London home. He studied Criminal Justice and Public Policy at the University of Guelph and went on to Conestoga College where he took the Paralegal Program. He has previously worked for defence counsel in Kitchener, Ontario where he discovered his passion for criminal law.

When he’s not in the office, Aiden enjoys, reading, hiking, and playing board games.

About Haley

She/Her

Paralegal

Haley Moir calls London, Ontario home. She studied Public Relations at Conestoga College in 2012 but decided to pursue a diploma in Paralegal studies, as she has always been passionate about Criminal and Social Justice. She graduated the program with distinction and is thrilled to be working in the industry.

Outside of work, Haley enjoys spending time with her two young boys, snowboarding and traveling.

About Brandon

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Accounts Manager

Brandon Clarke was born and raised in London, Ontario. He graduated with distinction from the University of Western Ontario with an Honours Specialization in Criminology and a Minor in Dance. Brandon is a recognized award-winning student, after obtaining the prestigious Principal Regis Entrance Scholarship for his academic success. He was also given the Golden K Award from the King’s University College Students’ Council for his contributions to the community both on and off campus. He will be attending Fanshawe College in 2024/2025 for their Paralegal program, to continue his education the legal sphere.

During his undergrad, he co-founded a research team called the Not Asking for It (NAFI) project, with the objective of increasing student feelings of safety through policy change, and education surrounding sexual and gender-based violence.

Outside of DeMelo Law, Brandon can also be found instructing classes, choreographing routines, or working the front desk at Dance Extreme Inc. here in London.

About Katie 

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Articling Student 2024/2025

Katie Gosen arrived to London from Kitchener, Ontario. While completing her undergrad at Western, she earned her honours double major Bachelors Degree in Women’s Studies and Sexuality Studies, graduating with several distinctions including receiving the Stuart R. Dunsworth scholarship in Sexuality Studies, and being the recipient of two Western Gold Medals for each of her majors, which set an unprecedented record.

She is now a third-year law student at Western University, where she is applying her extensive background in community organization by specializing in Criminal Law. Katie also volunteers with SafeSpace while working at the Community Legal Services clinic at Western, which she joined in her first year. She also works to encourage community building, representation and advocacy for LGBTQ+ students in her role as President of the Western OUTLaws; Katie’s passion for advocacy is informed through phenomenological study which is employed through an intersectional lens.

Outside of her legal work, Katie enjoys pole dancing, writing, watching classic cinema, and cooking international dishes for her chosen family and partner.

About Shayne

He/Him

Articling Student 2024/2025

Shayne Stroud was born and raised in Oxford County here in Ontario. He studied Philosophy, Psychology and Political Science at Wilfrid Laurier University before getting an early acceptance to the Western Law School here in London. During his time at Western Law, he dabbled in a
variety of legal disciplines before discovering a deep passion for criminal law, and criminal defense in particular.

During his time at Western Law, Shayne had to balance his studies with his employment at London’s own Victoria Hospital, and his duties as a single parent. He participated in advocacy competitions, and also took the opportunity to coach his junior students in their own advocacy
efforts, and has had the opportunity of mentoring with criminal lawyers here in London. He believes in advocating for vulnerable members of society as they navigate the criminal justice system.

During his free time, Shayne enjoys cooking, playing a variety of different games, and spending time with his wife and son.

About Adriana

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Articling Student 2024/2025

Adriana D’Arpino was born and raised in Brampton, Ontario. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and Public Policy with a minor in philosophy at the University of Guelph, graduating with distinction. Adriana obtained her law degree from Queen’s University in 2024. During her studies, she was elected Student Senator of the Law Student’s Society, a position she held until she graduated. Adriana was also an executive member of the Queen’s Criminal Law Club in her second year.

During her second and third years, she worked at Queen’s Legal Aid where she represented clients who could not otherwise afford a lawyer. At Queen’s Legal Aid, Adriana received three separate awards for her dedication to mentorship and her significant contribution to the residents of Kingston through her advocacy. Adriana also interned in her final semester with a defence firm in Toronto where she assisted with appeals for people who have had their Charter rights violated or have been wrongfully convicted.

In her free time, Adriana enjoys reading, concert-going, watching bad movies with friends, and spending time at the dog park with her Shih Tzu Benjamin.

About Tanner

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Summer Student 2024

Tanner Gibson grew up in Woodstock, Ontario. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo. He graduated on the Dean’s list with an Honours Bachelor of Arts in psychology, with a research-intensive specialization and a minor in legal studies. This combination sparked his interest in the intersection between mental health and the legal system – specifically the criminal justice system.

He is an incoming third-year law student at Queen’s University, focusing on criminal law and has received the Queen’s Law Course Prize in Evidence. Tanner is deeply engaged in the Queen’s and Kingston communities through his work with Queen’s Legal Aid, where he has earned the McDougall Watson Memorial Award and the Ryan-Robinson Award in recognition of his excellent casework, commitment to the goals of Queen’s Legal Aid, and mentoring and supervision of student caseworkers. He has also delivered community legal education presentations on the nuances of self-defence and the application of this defence in Canada.

Outside of his legal work and academics, Tanner enjoys reading, working out, and hiking – particularly with his poodle, Atticus.

About Ella

She/Her

Summer Student 2024

Ella Mulvihill was born and raised in Pembroke, Ontario. She graduated with high distinctions from St. Francis Xavier University in 2022, earning a degree in Psychology with a Concentration in Forensics. During her undergraduate studies, Ella completed an Honours thesis
examining women’s risk perception regarding sexual victimization on university campuses. She also gained valuable experience through practicum placements with Correctional Services Canada, the Ministry of Children, Community, and Social Services, and a mental health treatment facility.

Prior to law school, Ella worked at Canadian Heritage in the Reconciliation, Treaties, and Engagement Branch. In this role, she collaborated with various Indigenous communities outside of her own, developing strategies to support reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and initiatives. Ella is currently a third-year law student at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she has primarily focused on the field of criminal law, leveraging her extensive experience with vulnerable populations. For her last year of school, Ella will be completing a clinical program while also actively participating with her schools Black Law Students’ Association and the Indigenous Law Students’ Association.

Outside of her academic pursuits, Ella enjoys spending time with her friends and family, baking, Chipotle, and basketball.

About Mariam

She/Her

Summer Student 2024

Mariam Messiha was born in Egypt and raised in the Greater Toronto Area. She graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber with an Honours Bachelor of Applied Science in Justice Studies and a diploma in Community and Justice Services.

Mariam’s interest in criminal defence work began while at Elizabeth Fry, where she worked with vulnerable young adults at risk of being in conflict with the criminal system. The incredible youth she met there solidified her professional commitment to furthering access to restorative justice, ultimately taking her to Windsor, Ontario, where she is now pursuing her legal studies.

While at Windsor Law, Mariam continues to focus her studies on criminal law. She has also had the opportunity to work at a legal clinic, Legal Assistance of Windsor, where she developed and practiced invaluable skills taught to her by both supervising lawyers and social workers. Mariam also volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada on the Youth Drop-In Legal Clinic project, where she attended the local youth centre and met with youth seeking legal information.

Outside of the classroom and office, Mariam enjoys sunny days, basketball, poetry, sudoku, and good food shared with loved ones.

Fair Representation in the Courts

Cassandra has a reputation for fighting vigorously for her clients, and for recognizing that a criminal charge does not define an individual.

Community Legal Involvement

Cassandra has worked tirelessly with the Community Legal Services clinic at Western University, as both a student and Review Counsel.

You hope to never need the advice of a criminal defence lawyer. But if you do, you will be glad you called us.