9th NOV , 1985.




His Honour Brian Gibbens, QC, a well-liked Judge at the Central Criminal Court until his retirement earlier this year, died on November 6 at the-age of 73. He had the dubious distinction of presiding over the longest criminal trial in British history, at which four men were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud by operating a bogus company. The trial ended in May, 1981, after lasting 274 days. In that trial he demonstrated the virtues which had made him one of the Old Bailey’s most highly regarded judges – courtesy, patience, humour  and the ability to grasp complex and detailed cases and explain them simply to a jury. Gibbens was no stranger to controversy, though he did not court ii. On one occasion he remarked that an honest man ‘stood-out like a sore thumb among Heathrow’s baggage handlers". On another the trial of a man accused of having sexual intercourse with a seven-year-old girl, he appeared to suggest (though he complained that his comments had been taken out of context) that it was the kind of accident that could happen to anyone. The man was jailed for two years and questions were asked in the House of Commons about Gibben’s remarks and the leniency of the sentence. Edward Brian Gibbens was born on September 26, 1912, and educated at Newcastle- under-Lyme High School and St Catherine’s Society, Oxford. He was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1934 and practised mainly on the Oxford circuit During the Second World War he served in the Royal Artillery. He took silk in 1962. In 1967 he conducted a Home Office inquiry into alleged brutality at the Court Lees approved school, and the following year a public inquiry into automatic level crossings after an accident at Hixon, Staffordshire. In 1972 he was the leading counsel for the Army at the Widgery tribunal of inquiry into the "Bloody Sunday" shootings in Londonderry. The following year he was appointed a Circuit Judge. Gibbens married in 1939 Kathleen Joan Rosier who survives him together with their two sons and one daughter.


Posted July 23, 2008 by theoldbailey in OLD BAILEY STAFF

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