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Home Maidstone News Article
One of the most colourful judges at Maidstone Crown Court has been forced to retire early through ill-health.
Judge Charles Byers took the sudden decision two weeks before his 65th birthday, despite having just started an attempted murder trial.
He was called to the Bar in 1973 and served as a recorder between 1993 and 1999. He was then appointed a judge on the south east circuit.
The son of life peer Baron Byers, he sat at Blackfriars and Woolwich Crown Courts in London before moving to Maidstone in August 2012, where he was a familiar face to lawyers.
He was known in the judiciary as a character with a ready quip and once made national news when his mobile phone rang in court at Woolwich.
"He was a valued colleague whose departure is much regretted by all those in the criminal justice system who value commitment, experience, loyalty and good humour in adversity..." - Judge Jeremy Carey
While at Maidstone, he threatened to jail an amorous couple for kissing in the dock on Valentine's Day, but later relented.
Judge Byers, who lives in Chiddingstone Heath, Edenbridge, asked another defendant facing a bootlegging charge why he wanted to relax his bail to go to Benidorm.
"Why can't he go to Frinton?" he asked.
Resident Judge Jeremy Carey said: "His Honour Judge Byers retires after a long and distinguished 15-year judicial career, much of it in a senior position at Blackfriars and Woolwich Crown Courts, before joining us at Maidstone some two years ago.
"He was a valued colleague whose departure is much regretted by all those in the criminal justice system who value commitment, experience, loyalty and good humour in adversity. We wish him much happiness in his retirement."
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