Judges and barristers today paid tribute to Canterbury Crown Court's very first resident judge Giles Rooke QC, who has died aged 86.
The much-loved advocate – who often quoted Latin during trials – was given a fitting farewell: “Si Monumentum Requiris, Circumspice” - the epitaph to Sir Christopher Wren - which translates: "If you are searching for his monument, look around!"
Judge James O’Mahony – a successor to Judge Rooke as the Recorder of Margate – told a packed Court Six: “Giles Rook WAS Canterbury Crown Court."
He had been educated at Stowe School and then Exeter College, Oxford, reading classics.
By 21 he became a member of the Kent Yeomanry and remained active in the TA until he was 65, reaching the rank of major.
He was called to the Bar in 1957 and took silk in 1979, becoming a recorder in 1980 and a judge in 1981.
He was assigned his post as resident judge at the new combined courts in July 1995 when it was opened by the Duke of Kent.
"He was a judge of skill, fairness, humanity and old fashioned courtesy... together with a boyish twinkle-eyed charm and humour" - Judge James O'Mahony
Judge Rooke, who lived in Bridge near Canterbury, retired 13 years ago but his barrister son Alex regularly appears in cases in the city.
Judge O'Mahony added: "It is sad when this court seems suddenly a very lonely place. From the old court next to the prison to this place, he bestrode it like a colossus.
"He was a judge of skill, fairness, humanity and old fashioned courtesy... together with a boyish twinkle-eyed charm and humour."
Judge O’Mahony said that despite his love of speaking Latin he could also take a joke, as he did when Jonathan Higgs, now a QC and part-time judge, complained that his heavily tattooed client from an estate in Ramsgate did not understand Latin!
He added: “He was much-loved by us all.”
Responding on behalf of the Bar, Tony Prosser praised Judge Rooke for “working long and hard” to ensure that Canterbury had a first class court.
The barrister recalled the judge once turning downing a bail application on behalf of a defendant by telling him: "He can eat the bread of reflection... in the house of correction."
The judge was also once touched by personal tragedy when in the middle of a trial, he was informed that his seven-year-old child had died in a tragic swimming accident.
Despite his anguish, the judge told KentOnline's sister paper the Kentish Gazette: "It was one of those ghastly million to one accidents. I do not hold the people where this happened responsible in any way."