Judge says farewell to ‘awesome responsibility’
Yordan Zhekov played only a small part in Judge Andrew Patience’s time on the bench at Canterbury Crown Court.
The Bulgarian lorry driver had been caught bringing an illegal stun gun into Kent. He pleaded guilty, was sentenced to two years, and wrote himself a footnote in the distinguished career of Judge Patience.
As Zhekov was led away to start his sentence, His Honour Andrew Patience QC ended not only his stint as a deputy circuit judge but also his career at the Bar.
While defence and prosecution barristers spent his last day sending him best wishes for his retirement, the modest judge not only thanked his legal colleagues but also all “the backroom” staff at Canterbury and Maidstone crown courts.
Known for his wry sense of humour as well as his brilliant legal mind, he reflected on his 14 years on the bench in Kent, by saying: “Every emotion is displayed before judges, there is humour (and that keeps me going) but there are moments of high tragedy, drama and the awesome responsibility of making decisions not only that affect the lives of defendants in front of you but also the families, is something that does way heavily on you.
“But it manages to keep one humble. It ensures that you do your best to achieve balance. And although you may not be popular that’s not the point.
“Because sometimes if you don’t satisfy either side with your final decision, it probably means you have got it right!”
Andrew Patience was called to the bar in 1966, the year England won the World Cup, although his sporting passions are cricket and horse racing.
He began hearing cases in 1981 as an assistant recorder and became a full recorder five years later. In 1990 he took silk, adding
‘Sometimes if you don’t satisfy either side with your final decision, it probably means you have got it right!’
Queen’s Counsel to his title, and nine years later was appointed a judge at Maidstone.
Judge Patience eventually became the county town’s most senior judge but retired, for the first time, two years ago.
He then took a two year appointment as a deputy circuit judge hearing cases in Canterbury, just a few feet away from the city’s senior judge, Adele Williams, or as she is known in other circles…Mrs Patience! The couple live in the Ashford area.
His retirement will be busy. He is president of Kent’s Red Cross volunteers, a member of the Kent Ambassadors, patron of the Chatham Historical Dockyard Society, a school governor and church warden.
Judge Andrew Patience