Long-serving judge to be freed from Taranaki's criminal courts

Judge Allan Roberts is set to retire at the end of the month.
Robert Charles

Judge Allan Roberts is set to retire at the end of the month.

A Taranaki judge known for his no-nonsense approach from the bench is set to retire at the end of the month.

Judge Allan Roberts is in the final weeks of his tenure in the New Plymouth and Hawera district courts, a role he was appointed to in 2007.

Taranaki Law Society president Rajan Rai said Roberts had been well-respected by the region's legal practitioners during his time in the province.

Roberts is known for his straight-talking approach. To an offender convicted of domestic violence in 2010 - "You're ...
Robert Charles

Roberts is known for his straight-talking approach. To an offender convicted of domestic violence in 2010 - "You're going to get the message whether you want to or not. Don't you ever, ever again lay a hand on a woman."

"Judge Roberts earned the respect of counsel and the community with his firm but consistent approach in court. He was courteous to all those who appeared in his court, unless they were discourteous or were misleading the court, then look out!," Rai said.

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Rai said Roberts was dedicated to his job and often worked long hours. 

"His mastery of the English language and his ability to distill relevant facts and apply the law resulted in the quick delivery of decisions," he said.

Retired Taranaki Daily News court reporter Lyn Humphreys believed Roberts would be also missed by Taranaki residents.

"To me, he's a judge of the people," she said.

"I'm sure he will be missed by the general populace.  They just loved the fact he was a no-nonsense man who cracked down when he felt he needed to."

Humphreys said Roberts often championed issues of public importance from the bench, including violence in the central city, vandalism, drink-driving and knife crime.

"He made a statement from the bench one day that anyone carrying a knife on them would go to jail," she said.

Despite his fearsome reputation, Roberts also gave credit where it was due to offenders who did try and turn their lives around, praising them in open court for their efforts, she said.

Originally from Auckland, Roberts was sworn in as a District Court judge in April 2007.  He was admitted to the bar in 1969 and much of his work was spent as a criminal lawyer, in both the defence and prosecution roles. 

Good friend Nigel Dwyer, who spent time with Roberts outside of the courtroom in Taranaki, said the judge was a keen swimmer and had a long association with surf lifesaving, including membership at the Fitzroy club.  Dwyer said Roberts also enjoyed the odd game of golf and avidly followed football and horse-racing.

"He's a really good all-rounder. He's got a great personality and he's a great person to be around," Dwyer said.

He said Roberts' commitment to his work had sometimes got in the way of his down time, but his dedication was an attribute Dwyer admired most about him.

"Whatever he's done, he's done a really good job at it, he's not a half-hearted person," Dwyer said.

Roberts' last day in the New Plymouth District Court is January 28.

 - Stuff

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