Queen's Counsel Kevin Ryan dies aged 77

Kevin Ryan, the high profile Auckland Queen's Counsel, who died yesterday after a short illness, was one of the most sincere men in the business, says a legal colleague.

Mr Ryan was 77.

The outspoken Auckland lawyer appeared in more 100 homicide trials.

He acted for Arthur Allan Thomas, who was subsequently pardoned over the murders of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe in the 1970s, for Mr Asia drug king Terry Clark, and serial rapist Joseph Thompson.

He was one of two Auckland barristers appointed as Pitcairn Island magistrates, given the task of deciding whether allegations of rape and sexual abuse on the island should be committed to the Supreme Court.

Auckland crown prosecutor Simon Moore, who locked horns in court with Mr Ryan numerous times, said he would not give in to judges, or prosecutors, and would even dress down his own clients in public if it was deserved.

Mr Moore said one story particularly stood out to him.

A policeman had shot dead a man in Newmarket and Mr Ryan offered to represent the dead man's family at no charge.

"I will never forget this. Kevin appeared at the inquest and was very robust," he said.

"He asked tough, searching questions of the police and then cross-examined the police officer vigorously for some time.

"At the end of that he sat down, thought about it for a moment then stood up and said to the tribunal `I don't see that this officer had any option but to do what he did'.

"That is the nature of the guy. That is pretty impressive."

Mr Moore said there was no one as straight as Mr Ryan.

"He oozed sincerity. It was genuine. There was no pretence," he said.

Mr Ryan campaigned for several years before finally becoming a QC in 1998.

When he retired in 2006 he shocked his legal colleagues by saying he thought the right to silence was outdated and should be abolished.

He died after a short illness.

- NZPA

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