‘Rare’ honour for barrister leaving court

Barrister Stephen Smyth who retired after 43 years on March 18, 2016. He spent his last day at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Barrister Stephen Smyth who retired after 43 years on March 18, 2016. He spent his last day at Portsmouth Crown Court.

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BARRISTERS and judges bid farewell to a highly-respected member of the bar during a ceremony.

After 43 years in the criminal courts, Stephen Smyth had his last day yesterday.

Barrister Stephen Smyth who retired after 43 years on March 18, 2016. He spent his last day at Portsmouth Crown Court

Barrister Stephen Smyth who retired after 43 years on March 18, 2016. He spent his last day at Portsmouth Crown Court

He was praised as fearless in defending clients and renowned for securing acquittals in difficult cases.

Before proceedings started at Portsmouth Crown Court, barristers and judges gathered for the senior barrister and part-time judge.

Judge Roger Hetherington, the honorary recorder for Portsmouth, said it was ‘rare’ for a barrister to be given such an honour.

Flanked by fellow judges, judge Hetherington said: ‘He has been, throughout, held in very high regard. He certainly has established an enviable reputation, both with judges, I suspect members of the bar, and also his clients and solicitors.’

He goes back to a time when advocacy was an art and not as mechanical as it is now, that’s what makes him so admired by his colleagues

Frank Abbott

Mr Smyth both defended and prosecuted in London for 25 years before moving to the Western circuit in Portsmouth.

Barrister Frank Abbott said 69-year-old Mr Smyth, went back to a time when ‘advocacy was an art form’.

Speaking to The News Mr Abbott said: ‘He’s one of the most respected, talented and well-liked barristers to practise on this circuit. He has high levels of integrity and is fearless in defending and efficient in prosecuting.

He added: ‘He goes back to a time when advocacy was an art and not as mechanical as it is now, that’s what makes him so admired by his colleagues.’

Mr Smyth, who was a pupil in 1973 and called to the bar in 1974, has defended notorious rape and sex cases, including a paedophile nursery worker who was ultimately jailed.

Barrister Anthony Bailey added Mr Smyth was a ‘character’ and a ‘great bloke’.

‘I’m very sorry he’s going,’ he said.

Daniel Reilly added: ‘He is someone special, he really is, and no matter what the case he will find a way to have the jury hanging on his every word.’

Mr Smyth, who said ‘court makes the heart beat faster’ added: ‘I will miss seeing all my friends and being stimulated.

‘But I won’t miss the responsibility of defending people who if one were to make mistakes might go to prison for a very long time.’

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