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Tributes as Derry judge Corinne Philpott dies

Judge Corinne Philpott
Staff Reporter

TRIBUTES have been paid to Northern Ireland's first female County Court judge who has died at the age of 62.

Judge Corinne Philpott QC, the Deputy Recorder of Belfast, died on Thursday evening following a long illness.

She served as the trial judge in the high profile case of Liam Adams, brother of Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams.

In 2013 Liam Adams was jailed for raping and abusing his daughter. The abuse happened between 1977 and 1983, when she was aged between four and nine.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan, the north's most senior judge, said Judge Philpott had paved the way for others.

He said she was a "dedicated and passionate member of the judiciary in Northern Ireland".

"She was a trailblazer. She was the first female County Court Judge in Northern Ireland, and the second female to take silk in this jurisdiction," he said.

"She was compassionate to those who came before her and had an innate sense of justice and fairness.

"Her wit, hard work and dedication to the courts, justice and the most vulnerable people in society will leave a huge void. We will all miss her terribly."

Born in March 1954, Judge Philpott was educated at Richmond Lodge School and Queen's University Belfast.

She was called to the Bar in December 1977 and took silk in December 1993.

She was a Deputy County Court judge from 1993 to 1998, when in April of that year she was appointed a County Court judge.

Judge Philpott was Recorder of Derry from March 2002 until January 2008, and in 2012 she became Deputy Recorder of Belfast.

Her death was announced on Friday at Derry Crown Court.

The current Recorder of Derry, Judge Phillip Babbington, extended his deepest sympathies to her husband David and son Christopher.

He said that Judge Philpott loved Derry and its people and always fought for the city behind the scenes in judicial matters.

He added that one of Judge Philpott's great pleasures was when she was awarded the freedom of the city of London.

Gerald McAlinden, chairman of the Bar of Northern Ireland, said Judge Philpott was a "pioneer of her profession".

"We will remember her generosity of spirit, her deep sense of humanity and her unfailing commitment to serve the interests of justice," 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 in Northern Ireland.

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

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