Paul Philp: Hamil­ton judge saw his share of crim­i­nals

The Hamilton Spectator - - Local - DANIEL NOLAN dnolan@thes­ 905-526-3351 | @dan­dun­das

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.

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