Paul Philp: Hamilton judge saw his share of criminals
Justice Paul Philp dealt with many high-profile cases and criminals during his 13 years on the bench.
Philp — who died Dec. 29 at the age of 92 in Burlington — was appointed a judge on what was then the Ontario Supreme Court in 1988.
He joined a circuit that saw him travel the province hearing the most serious criminal offences, such as murder and espionage, and civil cases exceeding more than $25,000.
He was eventually assigned to Hamilton, but he presided over cases in a number of communities, including Kitchener, Whitby and Sudbury.
Locally, he oversaw the 1991 murder trial of two men — Chris McCullough and Nicholas Nossey — charged in the 1989 slaying of Tapleytown schoolteacher Beverly Perrin. McCullough was convicted, but it was overturned in 2000 because of new DNA evidence, while Nossey was acquitted by the jury.
There was the 1996 trial of Rory Foreman, who killed his girlfriend,
Joan Heimbecker, with a shotgun in a McMaster University residence two years earlier. Foreman, of Kitchener, went on the lam for two weeks and finally turned himself in to police in Colorado.
Philp also presided over the 1998 bail hearing for Sukhwinder Dhillon, who was charged with the sensational poisonings of his wife and his business partner in 1995 and 1996, respectively. The case involved an international investigation by the HamiltonWentworth police, but Dhillon, the owner of a car dealership, sought bail. After a three-day hearing, Philip rejected the request.
“The Crown has a very strong case to present to a jury,” he told the accused. Dhillon, considered Hamilton’s first serial killer, was convicted of the murders at two separate trials and is suspected of killing three more people in India.
Philp heard cases involving other killers, bikers, police officers, lawyers, doctors, drug dealers and one bank robber nicknamed The Plastic Bag Bandit.
And he oversaw a 1995 hearing for triple murderer Jon Rallo, who was asking for a reduction in the time he must spend in prison before being eligible for parole.
At the judicial review hearing, the jury turned Rallo down after the judge told them to consider a balance between whether he was a well-behaved convict “and the community interest in continued
repudiation of the type of conduct that led to those murders.”
Rallo had been convicted of killing his wife and two children in their west Mountain home in 1977.
Philp told The Spectator in 1988 that his appointment to the bench came as a surprise because he had forgotten that he agreed to let his name stand for consideration two years earlier.
“It’s certainly an honour that I greatly cherish,” he said.
Philp, who was born in Hamilton, was the son of Dr. Gerald and Alma Philp. He attended Delta Secondary School and McMaster University, where he was president of the Students Society.
He attended Osgoode Hall Law School beginning in 1948, and was called to the bar three years later. He then joined the Hamilton law firm of Walsh, Evans — later named Evans, Philp, Gordon, Leggat & Evans, and finally Evans, Philp LLP, its current name.
Philp handled cases involving insurance, real estate and wills, and he practised some criminal law in the 1950s.
John Evans, who was also a partner at the firm and became a
prominent lawyer in his own right, said he knew Philp “forever,” and described him as someone who was well respected in the legal community. Philp, he said, had a “wonderful, lively smile.”
“He had good values,” Evans noted. “Succeeding was important to him and important to his clients. He acted for big companies or a person whose house was being threatened by a bully.”
Evans said Philp was the godfather of his daughter, Rosalynd, and passed his legal values on, adding that Philp’s three children became lawyers.
Philp, who had a reputation for being even-tempered, was involved with many groups, such as the Rotary Club and the Hamilton Club, and served as chair of the former Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals.
In 1983, he became a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada, which governs the province’s lawyers.
He is survived by his wife Joyce, three children Dale, John and Paul, and five grandchildren.
Justice Paul Philp, right, swears in Terry Cooke to the post of regional chair of Hamilton-Wentworth in 1997. The judge and politician were longtime neighbours.