08:54, April 27 203 0 theguardian.com

2020-04-27 08:54:04
Other lives  John Jones obituary

My father, John Jones, who has died aged 73, was a criminal barrister and a crown court recorder.

He was called to the Bar in 1972 and worked mainly as defence counsel on serious fraud cases, including in the areas of banking, corruption, Ponzi schemes and huge credit and DSS frauds. But he also took on cases that involved arms and drugs importations, as well as people smuggling. Two of his biggest trials involved excise frauds in which tens of millions of pounds of alcohol and tobacco duties had been illegally avoided.

He became an assistant recorder in 1991 and then a recorder in 1997, working in crown courts on the south east of England circuit until his retirement in 2014.

Born in Southampton, John was the only child of William Jones, a Welsh butcher, and Annie Foley, an Irish boarding-house landlady. He went to St Mary’s school in Southampton and after being kicked out of Leeds University for spending too much time in the air squadron - and too little studying for his engineering degree – he set his sights on the Bar.

It soon became clear that he had found his vocation - and his wife. He met Carmel Green, who was also studying law and who too became a barrister, in the reading room of the Inner Temple in London, and they were married in 1973.

He loved every day of his four decades as a barrister and judge – particularly his time as a pupil master, helping to train young barristers. Those he mentored were subjected to his awful jokes and often found themselves dispatched on character-building errands to pick up a copy of the London Evening Standard or a packet of fruit pastilles. Occasionally they were even pressed into babysitting. John was also well known for wearing fancy dress to the annual party thrown by one of his solicitors, even though it was not actually a fancy dress event.

In his spare time he was a car and aeroplane enthusiast, and our childhoods were punctuated with visits to airshows and transport museums, while the garden was oil-slicked by a succession of “classics” that were picked up at auction and tolerated by my mother with remarkable forbearance.

Local history and architecture also fascinated him, and he chaired his local conservation society in west London for many years, showing a disdain for internal opposition and democratic norms that would have won him plaudits in Pyongyang. He was also an incorrigible tinkerer with houses, forever looking for ways to extend and improve his property. The house was always full of friends, neighbours and anyone else who needed his help and advice.

John retired, reluctantly, after a huge stroke following surgery in 2014. The last few years of his life were also affected by dementia, but even at the end, when his speech had deserted him and his only pleasures were a bunch of grapes or a bar of chocolate, his smile remained intact and there was never a flicker of self-pity.

He is survived by Carmel, and their three children, Damian, Imogen and me, and four grandchildren.