JUDGE Douglas Field has been told ‘you have made the world of Swindon a better place’ as he stood down after almost eight years as resident judge at the Crown Court.
And in a leaving address the 67-year-old paid tribute to the staff who helped him when he took the hot seat just weeks after becoming a full time criminal judge.
Addressing a packed Court One on his last day, he thanked all the court workers by name for ‘holding his hand’ when he took the top job in November 2006.
Among the barristers, solicitors and other staff from both Crown and County Courts was his predecessor Judge John McNaught and other retired judges.
He is not retiring from the bench he is moving to ‘oil rig shifts’ of four weeks on then four weeks off at Dorchester Crown Court as he winds down his workload.
Although he was only made a judge just days before his appointment as resident, he had sat for many years as a recorder in the family court.
During his time at Swindon, as well as sentencing numerous drug dealers, thieves and sex offenders, he also oversaw many changes in the running of the courts.
And he also launched a veiled barb at the Government’s cutbacks in the criminal justice system in his leaving address.
“The recording system may be on so I am not going to express my views on cuts to the legal aid system, CPS and the rest of judiciary,’’ he said.
Coincidentally on the same day he left the court canteen, which has fed and watered all, from the judiciary to defendants, for years traded for the last time.
It has closed down after its subsidy was cut leading a fellow judge to say the government ‘often confuse parsimony with economy’.
Commenting on his time in Swindon, Judge Field said: “In Wiltshire we have a decent police force, the probation service give us good service, and I would like to thank them all.
“But most of all I want to pay tribute to the court staff for the wonderful contribution that they make.
“I couldn’t have done it without you and I will miss you terribly.’’ He said: “I have mixed emotions about this being my last day in Swindon. I shall miss you all. I shall miss the camaraderie of the staff here.
“But I am looking forward to halving my work load and relieving myself of considerable responsibilities as resident judge.
“I shall finish these words by thanking you all sincerely for giving me such a good send off. Good luck to you all.’’ Earlier solicitor Rob Ross paid tribute on behalf of the local defence advocates saying he had followed his predecessors in making it a good place to work.
“You came here and got stuck in and I like judges who get stuck in.
“You got a reputation for getting things done, I think, quickly and efficiently,’’ he said.
“It is a nice court to work in, we have got good people.
“It is also a pleasure to come in here, you can’t say that about a lot of places and that has to come from the top.
“If you were not a decent chap it would not work.
“Judge John McNaught spent years here, he had a tough act to follow Judge Mark Dyer. I have been terribly lucky, my entire professional life here.
“We are both people who have a healthy respect for the system. You had the good sense to see the good in some of the people standing in the dock before you.
“If you give the right people a break at the right times it can often pay dividends.
“It is not all about punishment, it is about making the world a better place. I do think you have made the world of Swindon a better place.
“You have been a great judge. We will miss you.’’
Before the bench – some of the notable cases
- In August, council landscape architect Chris Annis, who downloaded thousands of indecent images of children to his computer, escaped a jail sentence after Judge Douglas Field imposed a suspended sentence, telling him ‘it’s not an easy option’.
- Last year, Judge Field sentenced pervert family doctor Davinder Jeet Bains to 12 years in prison for 13 offences of assault by penetration. Judge Field told Bains he had breached the trust people put in their doctor and had committed the offences for his own "sexual gratification". However, Lord Thomas, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, later cut this to ten years.
- Earlier this year, Judge Field put two brothers, Julian and Gary Cox, behind bars after they were caught ferrying thousands of pounds worth of cocaine into the town. Judge Field said: “This was a conspiracy relating to about a quarter of a kilogram of cocaine at 12 per cent purity, and an ounce at a very high purity of 90 per cent. If the conspiracy had not been interrupted, street deals of about £18,000 would have been achieved.”
- In November last year, Judge Field jailed Jack Hiscock, 20, for 28 months after he caused the death of his best-friend in a car crash. The sentence came despite an emotional plea by the parents of victim Jack Savage who vowed to stand by their son’s best friend. Luke Cowley, 18, was jailed for less than two years after he killed Constantine Voulgaris in 2013. Constantine’s family cried injustice following the sentence given by Judge Field. In a family statement, they said: “In our hearts, justice has not been done but whatever punishment is given it will never be enough for taking Costi away from us.”
- Stewart Campbell, then 21, of Thorn Hill Road, South Marston, was locked up after Judge Field sentenced him for five years after he raped a teen at a bus stop just five months after carryign out a sex attack on a nurse at the bus station.
- In 2011, Judge Field found himself at the centre of a media storm and denying allegations that he was under the influence when he instructed jurors to acquit a 55-year-old defendant accused of raping a minor after they failed to reach a verdict. The mother of the alleged victim, aged eight, wrote to the Office For Judicial Complaints claiming the judge attended a leaving party during an extended lunch break.