THERE aren't too many Aussie accents coming from the benches of British courtrooms, but a former Kepnock man is slowly changing that following a coveted legal appointment.
Tony Baumgartner, who graduated from Kepnock State High School in 1988, has been appointed a Recorder of the Crown Court by the Queen — the equivalent of an Acting Judge of the District Court or Supreme Court in Queensland.
Mr Baumgartner said the appointment was a part-time one, which left him free to continue practising as a solicitor in London when his court was not sitting.
“At the moment I sit at Woolwich Crown Court, which is the only court in England outside the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, that tries cases involving terrorism,” he said.
Mr Baumgartner said the post of Recorder was highly sought after in Britain, and last year there were 982 applications, with 128 appointments made.
“An Australian accent from the bench tends to raise a few eyebrows from those in the well of the court at the beginning of a trial, but I think they soon forget about that once the trial gets under way,” he said.
Mr Baumgartner earned a Commerce degree at Griffith University in 1991, then studied for a law degree as an external student at the Queensland University of Technology while working as an articled clerk for the Bundaberg law firm of Plath, Bedford and Highland.
He went to Britain in 1997 to read for a Masters degree in law at University College London.
“My practice as a solicitor in London is quite specialised and is based around very large international commercial disputes, so becoming a judge in criminal law has been a fairly steep learning curve for me,” Mr Baumgartner said.
His father, Alan, said he and wife Maree were extremely proud of their son's achievements.
“He was never a brilliant student but he always applied himself,” he said.
“I used to call him the professional student.”
Mr Baumgartner said Tony, who turned 39 yesterday, still made the trip home to Bundaberg once or twice a year to see family and friends.