Tributes were paid today (Fri) to Judge Michael Heath who retired after sitting as a judge at Lincoln Crown Court for two decades.
Judge Heath, 69, a former solicitor, was appointed a circuit judge in 1995 having previously been an Assistant Recorder and then a Recorder.
After being appointed the senior judge at Lincoln Crown Court in 2000 he served as the Honorary Recorder of Lincoln between 2001 and 2010.
In recent years he sat as the judge in a number of murder trials at the Crown Court and was the country’s seventh longest serving circuit judge.
Judge John Pini QC , paying tribute at a ceremony at Lincoln Crown Court this morning, described Judge Heath as “a model judge”.
Judge Pini said: “Mike has given very many years of distinguished service to this court, to the administration of justice and to the county of Lincolnshire. He will be missed by a great many people.
“Without doubt the quality in him which I most admire is a fearless independence of mind an unwillingness to be trampled by the herd.
“On the bench he was always in command of his court, always patient, never irascible, always courteous and always prepared to change his mind if the advocate proved persuasive.
“He was never a bully, never suffered from judgitis and had a very keen intellect. In short he was a model judge.”
Judge Heath, who was born and raised in Grimsby, attended Leeds University and after graduation he was articled to John Barkers solicitors in Grimsby. After qualifying as a solicitor he joined RAC Symes and Co in Scunthorpe doing both crime and civil cases before becoming a judge.
Outside of his legal work he was a keen sportsman. He captained Lincolnshire Under 15s and Under 19s cricket teams and continued to play at cricket at a high level for many years.
He was also an accomplished goalkeeper. In his youth he represented Grimsby Boys, Lincolnshire Grammar Schools and Grimsby Town juniors. At the age of 21 he was offered the chance to be signed on amateur forms by Doncaster Rovers who were then managed by Laurie McMenemy.
He continued playing football throughout his adult life with his last game being at the age of 39 when he appeared for Brigg Town in the Northern Counties East League.