Hit-run widow Di Gilcrist wants alleged drink-drive Supreme Court judge Anne Bampton removed from the bench
The Advertiser: Hit-run widow Di Gilcrist wants alleged drink-drive Supreme Court judge Anne Bampton removed from the bench. Chief Court Report. Sean Fewster. 2 December 2013
Justice Anne Bampton outside the District Court building today, after being reported for drink-driving and allegedly colliding with a female cyclist. Source: News Limited
THE widow of hit-run victim Ian Humphrey has called on the state’s Chief Justice to rescind the appointment of alleged drink-driver Justice Anne Bampton to the Supreme Court bench.
Di Gilcrist marked the 10th anniversary of her cyclist husband’s death – involving drunk lawyer Eugene McGee on the Kapunda Rd – on Saturday.
At 12.30am that morning, the newly appointed Supreme Court Justice was reported by police for colliding with a female cyclist while driving with a blood-alcohol level of 0.121 at Glenside.
SA Police say the cyclist sustained only minor injuries.
In a letter to Chief Justice Chris Kourakis – also sent to The Advertiser, Commissioner for Victims’ Rights Michael O’Connell and Attorney-General John Rau – Ms Gilcrist says Justice Bampton’s appointment to the Supreme Court bench, where she will earn $412,550 a year, should be rescinded.
Her feelings were echoed by readers of theadvertiser.com.au, with 80 per cent of poll respondents saying Justice Bampton should resign.
“I wish to convey my absolute horror at the news that another officer of the court has put the lives of road users at risk,” she tells Chief Justice Kourakis in her letter.
“Justice Bampton’s actions on 1 December, 2013 disgust and anger me.
“Need I remind you that almost 10 years to the day, my cyclist husband was killed by another officer of the court, Mr Eugene McGee, after he had consumed a vast amount of alcohol.”
Ms Gilcrist says McGee faced “virtually no consequences” for his actions besides a fine and licence suspension, and was allowed to continue practising as a lawyer.
“It would seem that there is a culture of ‘one law for them and another law for us’ within the SA justice system,” she says.
“It is time well past time for you to get your house in order Chief Justice … Ms Bampton cannot be appointed to the bench.
“Drunk drivers kill – you need to demonstrate that the abhorrent act of driving under the influence of alcohol will not be tolerated.”
Today, Mr O’Connell said he had no comment to make about Justice Bampton, but was concerned for the cyclist.
“As the alleged victim, the cyclist should not be forgot,” he said.
“Her rights should be a priority.”
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Premier Jay Weatherill did not call for Justice Bampton to stand down but expressed his disappointment.
“This sends an appalling message and I am very disappointed,” he said.
“The full measure of the law should be applied to her and I am sure she would expect nothing less.”
Justice Bampton’s matter is not the first time a South Australian judge has run foul of the law for drink-driving.
In May, 2002, District Court judge Neal Hume stood down from the bench after being caught driving 16km/hr over the speed limit with a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 per cent in January that year.
Judge Hume, who spent 17 years as a judge and had an unblemished 40-year driving record, was fined $1,000 and disqualified from driving for 15 months.
Today, Judge Hume told The Advertiser it would not be appropriate for him “to express an opinion” about Justice Bampton’s matter.
“In my own experience, I thought about my own position very carefully,” he said.
“My decision was not just taken for reasons of my offending … I had health issues, as well.
“My advice from the then-Chief Justice, at the time, was that my offending was not conduct which would require dismissal from the bench.”
Justice Bampton arrived at the courts just before 9am today.
She arrived on foot for a scheduled 9.30am hearing regarding a man awaiting sentence for attempted robbery – one of her last District Court matters.
Asked if she had any comment to make, or anything to say to the cyclist involved in the incident, Justice Bampton declined to speak.
“You know I can’t say anything,” she said.
The hearing, however, was adjourned because psychological reports about the matter had yet to be provided.
Justice Bampton left the District Court building at 11.15am, crossed Gouger St and entered the Supreme Court building.
Late this afternoon, a spokeswoman for Chief Justice Kourakis said he had not received Ms Gilcrist’s letter and would not “correspond with her through the media”.
Gary Thompson, the State Courts Administrator, said judges could choose to have cars as part of their remuneration package but were not provided with drivers.
He said Justice Bampton would not be provided with a driver or taxi vouchers during her disqualification period.
“The Courts Administration Authority will not provide any additional support to the judge as a result of her licence suspension,” he said.
“The judge will have to make her transport arrangements at her own cost.”
Justice Bampton has been summonsed to face the Adelaide Magistrates Court on a date to be set.
Sylvia Kriven, manager of media and communications for the CAA, said the state’s Chief Magistrate, Judge Elizabeth Bolton, would decide who heard the matter.