A weekly feature on the lives and loves of people from our city.
My day: Being in a house with three boys under nine-years-old means that our day starts with a bang and it starts early – no gentle coaxing into the day for us, as soon as the boys are awake they come into our room and make sure that we're awake as well. Thankfully, my wife has to get up early as she is training to be a teacher and has to be in college in Liverpool by 9am. This leaves me with the hectic chaos that is the school run – in fact I'd go as far to say that getting three little boys fed, into their school uniforms and shoes, then into the car is about the most stressful thing I do all day.
Next stop for me is my chambers, which is Linenhall, Stanley Place, Chester. It’s a friendly set with around 70 barristers in it. I like to go there before court and have a quick cup of tea and a chat with a few of my colleagues. The conversation will usually centre around the cases that people are involved in and the stories will range from the amusing to the tragic, which in many ways encapsulates the life of a lawyer.
Today, I have two cases at Chester Crown Court. Like all Chester barristers, my practice could see me having to work in any court in the land, but today thankfully, I’m in my home court in Chester, which is also my favourite Crown Court. I arrive at around 9.30am and make my way to see my client who is a lady in her forties. Hers is a tragic story, she’s one of those people we deal with on a regular basis whose journey through life has been blighted by drugs and alcohol. I don my wig and gown and tell the judge in Court 1 that she will be pleading guilty to the charge and that she knows she will be going to prison. Even though it is a quick hearing, and even though I have been appearing in Court 1 in Chester for almost 15 years, it is still a thrill to rise to my feet and present a case or make a submission in one of the most wonderful old courts in the country.
Afterwards I visit my client in the less salubrious surroundings of the cells in the old dungeon of the court. She is tearful and wants to know when she might be going home. I tell her she has to be patient and she should make the most of the time away from some of the problems she encounters when she is living back in the community. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right thing to say when you know that you are not the one who will be spending the night in a prison cell away from the people you love.
The rest of the day, I spend in Court 2, listening to the trial in there - although I am not directly involved in this case. I listen in, partly because there are a number of very senior Queen’s Counsel involved. QCs or Silks are the most senior and able barristers and it is always a joy to listen to them performing.
Later I’m home where my wife Ines has prepared tea and we sit around the kitchen table and discuss our days. We always try to ask the boys what they’ve learnt at school and encourage them to talk to us about the games they’ve played and the friends they’ve made.
On most nights, at least one of the boys will have some kind of sports club to go to. They play rugby and football, swim, do athletics and my two youngest do Tae kwon-do. By 7pm we hope that they’re in bed. My wife will then start on her school course work, whilst I’ll either do my preparation for the next day's cases or, if I can, I’ll write. I love writing fiction, I find that it's a great antidote to the law where you are constrained by the evidence in the case and the law. When I write fiction I can do what I want with my characters and my stories. My latest book, Whatever Happened To Billy Parks? was released last month. It is a story about an ageing former footballer who is seeking redemption for all the things that he did wrong when he was a player. I’m now working on my next novel, which I hope will be out before Christmas.
At 10pm my wife and I will collapse on the sofa and try to watch the TV for a bit – recently we've been watching the hit US show, Breaking Bad, which is just brilliant. I’ll be in bed by about 11.30pm, where I’ll read for a bit before sleep.
Dress: I wear a wig and gown.
What is the favourite part of your job? I enjoy making closing speeches to the jury.
What would be your dream job if you weren't doing what you do now? I’d like to be a full time writer, otherwise, I’d like to own a record label.
How do you relax when you are not working? I run (I try to run four miles, four nights a week).
What is your favourite film? Gallipolli.
What is your favourite book? Life and Fate, by Vassily Grossman.
What is your favourite song? My Favourite Dress by The Wedding Present.
If a film was made of your life, who would you like to play you? Matt Damon.
Have you had your 15 minutes of fame? I really hope not!
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