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Tributes after tragic death of 'trailblazer' female judge

By Cate McCurry

Published 18/06/2016

Corinne Philpott
Corinne Philpott

Tributes have been paid to Northern Ireland's first female County Court judge, Corinne Philpott QC, who passed away on Thursday.

It is understood that the mother-of-one, who presided over some of the region's most high-profile cases, including the Liam Adams sex abuse trial, had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.

Her death was announced at Londonderry Crown Court, where she was Recorder from 2002 until 2007.

Colleagues hailed the 62-year-old, who was educated at Richmond Lodge School and later Queen's University, as a "pioneer" in her profession.

She is survived her by husband, David, and their son, Christopher, who got married shortly before her death.

Northern Ireland's most senior judge, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, said Corinne had paved the way for others.

"Judge Philpott was a dedicated and passionate member of the judiciary in Northern Ireland," he added. "She was a trailblazer."

Gerald McAlinden QC, chairman of the Bar of Northern Ireland, also paid tribute. "The passing of our esteemed colleague has brought deep sadness to the Bar," he said.

"Judge Philpott was a quite simply a pioneer of the profession, being one of our first female Queen's Counsel and the first female appointed to the County Court here.

"From her days, both at the Bar and at the Bench, we remember her generosity of spirit, her deep sense of humanity and her unfailing commitment to serve the interests of justice.

"Her presence will be keenly missed by all those who knew her, and we offer our deepest condolences to our colleague and her husband, David, and their family at this very sad time."

In Crown Court yesterday the current Recorder, Judge Philip Babington, paid tribute to his predecessor, describing working with her as a "privilege".

"She loved this city and she loved its people," Judge Babington said. "She always fought for this city behind the scenes in terms of improving judicial cover and proper court sittings.

"An illness struck her down, a terrible illness which she was able to bear with great and typical bravery and determination."

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