THERE has been a changing of the guard on the region’s benches as three new magistrates take up residence in the New England North West.
Magistrate Julie Soars started her first day in Tamworth Local Court on Monday, taking over from Roger Prowse who has been appointed the state’s relieving magistrate.
Ms Soars will sit permanently in Tamworth, and also Quirindi and Scone Local Courts, once a month.
Senior Tamworth solicitor John Glynn welcomed the new magistrate, on behalf of the legal fraternity, as Ms Soars took position on the bench for the start of the Monday list.
“I welcome you to Tamworth and I hope you enjoy the country music,” he told the court.
It’s a big welcome to me to start this week.Magistrate Julie Soars
Ms Soars, a former commercial barrister, was sworn in as a magistrate in early-2017 in Sydney, where she has been based for the past year.
“It’s a big welcome to me to start this week,” Ms Soars told the court.
“It’s a great experience [the Tamworth Country Music Festival], not withstanding the heat.
“Thank you for your welcoming.”
Further west, George Breton has started as the permanent magistrate covering the Gunnedah court circuit.
Mr Breton, a former criminal lawyer in Sydney, started his placement in the North West earlier this month, and takes over from magistrate Peter Barnett who left the circuit mid-2017.
Mr Breton was sworn in as a magistrate in early-2017 at the same time as his colleague Ms Soars, and will sit across courts in Narrabri, Coonabarabran, Wee Waa, Gunnedah and Coonamble.
Michael Dakin will start his placement in Moree from January 29, and will be the first permanent magistrate in the town since early-2017.
Michael O’Brien left the Moree and Inverell court circuit with visiting magistrates filling the void for much of last year.
Magistrate Michael Holmes remains the sitting magistrate for the New England circuit, sitting across Armidale, Glen Innes, Tenterfield and Walcha Local Courts.