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Profile: John Coldrey QC Back


John Coldrey QC was born in Melbourne on January 18 1942 and educated at Essendon High School and the University of Melbourne where he graduated in law and arts. While at school, he was captain of the school debating and hockey teams, appeared on Channel 7’s “Parliament of Youth” and was school cross-country champion. He also received the Ian Colquhoun Memorial Prize for Citizenship.

During his university days, John edited the law students magazine “Summons”, represented the University at Intervarsity hockey and worked as fruit picker, aircraft cleaner, labourer in the Victorian Railways goods yards, waiter, shop assistant and part time English teacher at Essendon High School.

He has been a member of the Victorian Bar since 1966, signing the Bar Roll that year in June, and reading with Kevin Coleman (later a County Court judge). John was also a part-time teaching fellow in family law and criminal law at Monash University during the late 1960s. During John’s years at the Bar, he was a member of the Victorian Bar News editorial committee ((1975-1982 and 1986-1990). Additionally, he wrote and directed a number of Bar reviews between 1971 - 1975. He was part of the first Western legal delegation to visit China in 1976. In 1982, John left Victoria with his family to work in the Northern Territory, as director of Legal Services at the Central Land Council. Together with a number of other lawyers (including Ron Castan QC and Ross Howie (now Judge Howie of the County Court), Mark Hird, Phillip Toyne (later Director of the Australian Conservation Foundation) and Mr Bruce Donald (subsequently the Chief Legal Adviser to the Australian Broadcasting Commission), John was involved in negotiating the grant of aboriginal title to Uluru.

Two years later (1984), John took silk, and became Victorian Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). In that capacity he chaired the Consultative Committee on Police Powers of Investigation (1985-1990) which gave rise to major reforms of the criminal law.

He was made a judge of the Victorian Supreme Court in1991 and retired from the Supreme Court in April 2008.

Since 2005 until the present, John has been a member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Reform of Criminal Law. At the conference of the Society in Montreal, Canada in 2004 (a conference involving 38 nations), John received the Gold Medal of the Society awarded in recognition of a major contribution towards criminal law reform.

He has been married since 1966 to Karin, with two daughters, Anita and Vanessa. His hobbies were originally hockey and yachting, but have reduced to writing and travel; clubs Melbourne Cricket, Olive, and Melbourne University Hockey.

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