SITTING in his chamber on his final day at Warrington Crown Court, it is easy to see why His Honour Judge David Hale has reached the towering heights of where he sits today.
But after more than 19 years on the bench, the respected crown court judge is hanging up his wig for the last time at Chester Crown Court on Friday.
Known for his rational but fair yet firm approach to the criminal justice system and his prodigious legal mind, Judge Hale has described his time in the job as ‘extraordinary’.
“It’s like watching a new drama every day. You are playing a part in the drama of others’ lives,” said the judge as he looked back on his 40 year career in law.
“The decisions you make affect the lives of so many people – you never forget that responsibility.”
Despite having presided over hundreds of court cases, there are some that will stick in his mind for many years to come.
The 65-year-old said: “There was one case in Wales of a woman who tried to kill her husband by poisoning the pastry when she was making a pie - her husband was fond of pies.
“She tried to kill him so that she could run off with her driving instructor,” recalled the judge as he spoke about the many usual cases that he has presided over.
Judge Hale, who lives in Cheshire, studied law at Liverpool University as he believed ‘law sounded interesting’, living at home with his family in West Kirby while he completed his degree.
“My dad owned a grocery shop, which started in 1837, but he always said I mustn’t take over the business,” remembered Judge Hale, clearly thankful that he listened to his father.
In 1970, Judge Hale became a barrister after moving to London to take the bar one year earlier at Inns of Court School of Law.
“I had a grant to pay my fees which were £50. I believe they are around £8,000 now.”
In September 1970, Judge Hale started his first job as a pupil barrister under the watchful eye of David Morgan Hughes.
During this time, Judge Hale mostly sat on prosecution cases and dedicated his time to crime.
“On my first day, I was told that they would give me £1 more so I was paid £7 instead of £6,” added the judge with a smile.
The heavy workloads and the late nights never proved too much for the judge but there were some cases that proved too difficult.
“I always found family cases to be too emotional. It is very hard for someone to make a decision when children are involved.”
In September 1994, he stepped up to the bench as a judge but that’s not before one of the most stressful days in his career.
“I had to take my first wife Lynn for her first chemo session at Clatterbridge and then I had to get a train to London for the interview.
“But I missed it as it took three hours to get to Crewe. It was a traumatic day.”
But six months later, Judge Hale passed his second interview and took up his new post at Chester Crown Court before becoming a resident judge at Warrington Crown Court in 1999.
Following the death of his first wife to cancer, Judge Hale is now married to Eileen, who has four children and eight grandchildren from a previous marriage.
“I remember once, Lynn left a note on my wig with the words ‘shut up’ because she knew I talked too much.
“A lot of it has been down to luck and sheer chance. But what I will miss is the people. The people I would meet each day.”
Tributes have poured in for the judge since news broke of his retirement.
Court clerk, Bev Brown said: “It ihas been a privilege to have worked with Judge David Hale and it will be a sad loss for us all.”
Chief usher, Keith Tomlinson said: “I have worked with Judge David Hale for 11 years and it has been a pleasure. I have found him to be a fair judge over the years.”