Herts and Beds judge retires after long career in crown courts

Judge Andrew Bright QC is retiring from his role at Luton Crown Court. Picture: SBNA

Judge Andrew Bright QC is retiring from his role at Luton Crown Court. Picture: SBNA - Credit: Archant

A “popular and respected” crown court judge retired on today after a long career delivering justice in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Judge Andrew Bright QC spent 30 years as a barrister and became a QC, regularly appearing at both Luton Crown Court and St Albans Crown Court.

He became a judge in 2007 and presided over cases as resident judge of St Albans from 2010 to 2018 and then as a judge at Luton from 2018.

His most high-profile case at St Albans was the 2017 trial of Ian Stewart, from Letchworth, who was accused of the murder of Royston author Helen Bailey.

Every day reporters, photographers, TV crews, detectives and members of the public – as well as family members and friends of the victim and the accused – were at court to hear the often harrowing details.

The public gallery was full every day, and so was the press box.

At the end of the seven-week trial, Stewart was found guilty of the murder, preventing legal burial and three counts of perverting the course of justice – and Judge Bright sentenced him to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years behind bars.

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Today’s valedictory for Judge Bright was held in courtroom number 5 at Luton Crown Court and was attended by staff, barristers and fellow judges.

Many other colleagues and friends of the judge were able to link up to the proceedings via video links.

Those paying tribute to Judge Bright spoke of his compassion and wisdom and the way he was always able to command affection and respect from the advocates appearing before him.

And the present resident judge of Luton Crown Court, Judge Mark Bishop – who has been in the role since August 2019 – told how Judge Bright had been a source of great encouragement and support to him.

Judge Bright praised the staff at his farewell event.

He said: “I want to thank you all for making my time at Luton Crown Court such a happy time.”

Andrew Bright is retiring as a judge to take up a teaching post at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield, where he will teach law to students.

He said the role was “something he has wanted to do for a long time”.