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CROCKETT, William Charles AO (1924–2007)

Hon Justice William Crockett (Ad Astra March, 1970.)

Justice William Crockett (Ad Astra March, 1970.)

CROCKETT, Hon. Justice William Charles AO (1924–2007)

Hon Justice William Crockett

Hon William Crockett

Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Justice William Charles Crockett was the longest serving Supreme Court Judge in Australia. The only child of parents Russell Thomas Crocket and Winnie nee Taysom he was born in Mildura and spent his early life in Horsham before moving to Williamstown during the Depression. William became a pupil at South Williamstown State School before attending Williamstown High School from where he was sent as a boarder to Geelong College from 1939 to 1940. Although not known at School for his sporting prowess he nevertheless won the Norman Morrison Cup in 1939 for the Under 16 Athletics Handicap Championship.

He matriculated in 1940 and went on to Melbourne University in 1941 to study law winning several scholarships and prizes including the Supreme Court Prize. In due course he graduated LLB and then LLM. He sat his honours examination in 1945 to commence a Masters Degree but deferred his studies to enlist in the RAN becoming an able seaman aboard HMAS Barwon. Following his discharge he completed his law studies and completed his articles with an old family friend Stuart Brown in Horsham. He was admitted to practise law in 1948.

In 1950, he married Joyce nee Cooling and with her had four children including a daughter who followed her father into the law. At the age of 38, ‘Bill’ became a QC in 1962 and was involved in a variety of both civil and criminal cases as well as several Royal Commissions and judicial accident enquiries. He became a Supreme Court Judge in 1969 replacing Sir John Barry. At that time he was one of the youngest barristers to have been appointed to that Court. He became the Senior Puisne Judge in 1985. Thereafter, he acted on occasions as Acting Chief Justice and in 1988 was appointed Deputy Governor of the State of Victoria for two months. The creation in 1988 of an Appeal Division of the Court found Mr Justice Crockett sitting full time as an Appeal Judge - mostly presiding in the Court of Criminal Appeal. His services were recognised in 1987 when made an Officer of the Order of Australia for his ‘service to the law, to the Rules Committee of the Supreme Court of Victoria and to horse racing’ and later, in 1995 and 1996 when he was awarded doctorates of law at both Melbourne and Monash Universities. His association with horse racing was extensive and he was for a long time Vice-Chairman of the Moonee Valley Racing Club. He retired from the Court in 1996 and at that time had been the longest-serving member of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

In 2011, Hon William Crockett was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery.

Sources: Ad Astra March 1970; Ad Astra April 1992 p 16; Robert Richter QC and Paul Holdenson, QC-Obituary Melbourne Age 9 April 2007 p 16.
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