One of Northern Ireland’s most experienced and respected district judges, Des Perry, received good wishes from all quarters on an emotional last day as ‘resident magistrate’ in Ballymena.
The 66-year-old’s final sitting at Ballymena Magistrates Court saw fellow legal professionals pay tribute to him.
The judge left Ballymena last Thursday but his official retirement date was Friday after 24 years to the day as a full-time judge.
However, the Bangor-born legal eagle will still be available to give part-time court cover “to keep my hand in as I have a lot of experience” and he expects he might still do one sitting every couple of weeks.
He had a long and distinguished legal career.
He began as a barrister in 1974 and also prosecuted in Crown Courts in Crumlin Road, Newtownards and Downpatrick.
Looking back he said: “When you have sat on the bench for 24 years you think you have heard it all but there is always something surprises you.”
The judge has been eight years in Ballymena and said it was “brilliant”.
He added: “They are a great crowd up here”.
Tributes were paid to Mr Perry including from the legal profession, court staff, prosecution service, police and prison officers.
Ballymena solicitor Joe Donnelly said it was great to have someone with so much experience as a judge in the town.
He said the judge was noted for his “common sense” and also his “good humour, kindness and courtesy”
Barrister Stephen Law said Judge Perry was “the king of the one-liners”.
Speaking from his chambers, Judge Perry admitted he had a tear in his eye as he exited the courtroom but added: “I have thoroughly enjoyed myself”.