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Wednesday, 17 July, 2002, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
Judge's death halts ecstasy trial
Bristol Crown Court
The ecstacy case will now go to a retrial in Bristol
The trial of four men accused of importing the largest amount of ecstasy seized by UK customs officials was halted, following the death of the judge.

The trial of David Fairbairn, 46, Neil Higgins, 41, Philip Norris, 31, and Terry Clarkin, 30, had been in progress for a week at Bristol Crown Court.

But when the jury returned to court on Wednesday, they were told the presiding judge, Peter Thomas, had died on Tuesday night.

Judge Thomas, a former solicitor and criminal law specialist who was 63 and lived in Bristol, was a Crown Court circuit judge.


I can do nothing more than discharge you from any further participation in this trial

Judge Darwell-Smith

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith told the jury: "Last night, I am very sad to say, the judge in this case passed away.

"I can do nothing more than discharge you from any further participation in this trial and this case will have to take place in front of another judge."

Judge Thomas was married to a fellow judge, Carol Hagen, and was a member of Albion Chambers.

A spokeswoman for the Bristol-based chambers said a valedictory ceremony had been organised for the judge at the city's crown court.

The four defendants were remanded in custody.

A hearing to set a date for their re-trial is expected to take place on Friday.

Mr Fairbairn, of Oxford, Mr Higgins, of Shipton-under-Wychwood, Oxon, Mr Norris, of Springe, Germany and Mr Clarkin, of Falling Bostel, Germany are all charged with conspiracy to import ecstasy and conspiracy to supply the drug between 1 August and 27 August, 2001.

Customs officers and police raiding an industrial unit in Upper Rissington Business Park, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire last August found 839,500 ecstasy tablets, worth 7.5m.


Click here to go to Bristol
See also:

21 May 02 | E-F
17 Apr 02 | Health
18 Dec 00 | Health
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