Published: 13:45, 02 May 2021
| Updated: 13:47, 02 May 2021
A sports-loving judge has been given a horse racing commentary style send off after "passing the post" at Canterbury.
Popular James O'Mahony has spent the past 13 years on the bench at Canterbury Crown Court where he has presided over many serious trials.
The judge - who is also the Honorary Recorder for Thanet - has retired to enjoy his other pastimes including horse racing.
Resident judge Simon James told a virtual farewell gathering of colleagues: "In more normal times, there would be only one choice for us to see off our great friend and much-admired colleague and that would obviously have been a day at the races."
The barrister quipped that there would be two joint favourites: “The Veteran Top Judge” and the well-fancied “Jane Knows Best”, bred, trained and ridden by Mrs O’Mahony."
He praised the "proud" Irishman for his "easy charm and persuasive advocacy" in both England and Hong Kong.
Colleague Jonathan Higgs QC revealed how the judge had played rugby for Harlequins and England at under 21 level.
High Court judge Lady Cheema-Grubb then paid tribute to Judge O'Mahony's wife Jane and his children "for the support that they have given you to enable you to do your job."
She added: "I have heard they are very proud of you."
Judge O'Mahony told of his humble beginnings in London beginning his first job of laying concrete.
He added: "Then, the very afternoon that we won the World Cup in 1966, I was serving on a shop floor, pre-supermarket, J Sainsbury’s, in Watney Street, East London.
"I earned precisely five pounds 18 and sixpence for a 40-hour week. Every summer, at university, I dug graves at St Patrick’s Cemetery in Leyton. "
Judge O'Mahony then praised staff at Canterbury court where he said he had "found real friendship and goodwill".
He added: "All the court staff, probation, security, the cells, Crown Prosecution Service and the Bar are all my friends who have helped me all the way. "
As a farewell gift, the Canterbury judges presented the Shakespeare-loving judge with a tankard which had been engraved with a quote from The Taming of the Shrew.