Judge leads tributes to ‘giant of the legal world’

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TRIBUTES have been paid to a top Sheffield judge who has died aged 70.

Judge David Bentley QC, who sat at Sheffield Crown Court and set up a city chambers in the 1970s along with four fellow barristers, died after suffering a brain disease.

In a eulogy read at Sheffield Crown Court his friend and former colleague, the Recorder of Sheffield Judge Alan Goldsack QC said Mr Bentley had been suffering a disease which affected his brain to the extent he was not aware of his surroundings or who he was with.

“For someone with such a huge intellect the last few years have been all the more cruel,” he said.

Mr Bentley, a passionate Sheffield United fan and former King Edward VII pupil from Ecclesall, was married to Christine and had two sons, David and Tom. He began as a senior lecturer at Sheffield Polytechnic before joining Bank Street chambers in 1969.

He became a QC in 1984 and took on crime, family and civil cases to ‘an exceptionally high standard’, said Judge Goldsack. “He was a ferocious cross-examiner and a superb jury advocate,” he said.

In 1976 Mr Bentley, with Judge Trevor Barber, Judge Michael Murphy QC and Judge Roger Keen QC, set up what became Paradise Chambers, now in Paradise Square. In 1988 he became a judge.

Judge Goldsack said he had an ‘enormous interest’ in history and literature and, once retired, wrote books on legal history which would inform future generations of lawyers and historians.

He added: “David Bentley was devoted to and very proud of Sheffield, the city where he grew up. Sheffield will not see many like him again.”

Speaking on behalf of the city’s barristers, Paul Watson QC said Judge Bentley was ‘a true giant of the Sheffield legal world’. “We have lost a genuine leader, a true inspiration to all who knew him.”