Marriage dying man's last wish

By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
Trever Leigh. Photo / Supplied
Trever Leigh. Photo / Supplied

A Tauranga criminal lawyer achieved his dying wish of marrying his partner only days before he died from cancer.

Trever John Leigh passed away on Monday night, just over a week after he and his partner Susan married on May 19 at his Auckland Hospital bedside.

The 52-year-old self-employed barrister succumbed to his more than five-year battle with leukaemia in Waipuna Hospice.

Mr Leigh's older sister Sharon Leigh said her brother had been determined to marry his partner before he died.

"Both Trever and Susan are very private people, and it was a private wedding ceremony. But I know that, despite his illness, Trever was determined to marry Susan, and our family was delighted as Susan is an absolutely awesome lady. She adored Trever and she was a real brick, who stood by him to the last."

Auckland-born Mr Leigh, who was also a captain in the NZ Defence Force Military Police territorial corps, will be farewelled with military honours at Tauranga Park funeral home in Pyes Pa Rd on Saturday.

Mr Leigh was a member of the NZ territorial forces for more than 30 years.

A Military Police member, who assisted in bringing him back to Tauranga, has been standing vigil at Mr Leigh's home since Tuesday night, and will remain on guard until his funeral service.

A battler to the end, Mr Leigh was engaged in legal training with some of the defence force military personnel in Trentham on April 26, when he fell gravely ill.

He was admitted to Wellington Hospital, then later transferred to Auckland Hospital and subsequently brought back to Tauranga, dying in Waipuna Hospice days later.

Major Mark Bateman, NZ Military Police company commanding officer, told the Bay of Plenty Times that a military patrol vehicle would escort Mr Leigh's casket to the funeral home.

The team of military police will also act as pallbearers, provide the honour guard, and help attend the casket throughout the service, which will culminate in a five-gun farewell salute.

"Trever richly deserves this military honour for his absolute dedication and commitment to the MP corp and it's his dedication, fortitude and strength which made him stand out from others. He has earned the right for this special goodbye from his military police brothers," said Major Bateman.

Before becoming a lawyer, Mr Leigh was a traffic officer with Auckland City Traffic Department from October 1987 to June 1992, becoming a police constable until March 2000.

Tauranga police prosecutor David Pawson, who studied law with Mr Leigh at Waikato University, said he was a real battler both in fighting for justice for his clients and his health problems.

"He certainly toughed it out right to the end. He will be sadly missed," he said.

Ms Leigh, 56, said her brother was the second of four siblings. Their youngest brother Terry died in 1982, aged 23, after being killed in a motorcycle crash. Her remaining brother John, 50, lives in Waihi.

"My brother was a man full of integrity, and was the most loyal and generous person, who would never let you down. Trever was an awesome guy. His death has been a huge blow to all of us."

Mr Leigh is also survived by his brother John, his two adult daughters, and his parents Ronald and Marion Leigh, who live in Waihi.

His funeral starts at 11am on Saturday, to be followed by a private cremation.

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