Last week saw Thomas Ward’s last day as resident sheriff at Dunoon Sheriff Court.
Sheriff Ward’s arrival in Dunoon, in September 2010, came after a series of temporary sheriffs occupied the bench at Dunoon Court.
At the time he was compared to a wild west sheriff, cleaning up the town.
Certainly, a number of regular customers at the town’s court were surprised at the new sheriff’s harsh, but fair regime.
It is safe to say there has been much less crime in the area since Sheriff Ward first took the bench.
Prior to his full time appointment in Dunoon, he had served as a temporary and part-time sheriff since 1990.
He qualified as a solicitor in 1977 and was the criminal partner in a large firm for 20 years before his permanent appointment to the bench.
Throughout his time in Dunoon, he has also carried out shrieval duties in the other courts in the sheriffdom when required.
Sheriff Ward said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my 11 years in Dunoon.
“Undoubtedly the biggest change that has occurred in the past 18 months with the Covid crisis which has necessitated different ways of working.
“Thankfully all the local legal firms embraced this new way of working and after initial teething problems, things are working well.
“During my time here I have had great support from the court staff and particularly the Sheriff Clerk Kim Wilson.”
Despite concerns, it has been confirmed this week that Sheriff Ward will be replaced by a full-time sheriff.
A Judicial Communications spokesperson said: “The independent Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, which follows an open recruitment process, has been asked to recommend a candidate for a full-time sheriff post based in Dunoon.
“Until that appointment is made, judicial duties will be fulfilled as appropriate by part-time sheriffs or retired sheriffs.”
We would like to wish Sheriff Ward a long, happy and fulfilling retirement.
We were fortunate to have a sheriff who dispensed justice with a sense of fairness, compassion, and – occasionally – humour.