By Marcus Anselm of the Wairarapa Times-Age

Veteran criminal defender Jock Blathwayt died on Tuesday, mere days after a poignant farewell to his second home, Masterton District Court.

Blathwayt, 79, was celebrated by family, friends, and courtroom adversaries in the town's court last Friday.

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Wairarapa born-and-raised, Blathwayt spent 60 years in the profession and practised in the area for more than five decades.

Police prosecutor Tom Andrews said Blathwayt was a courtroom opponent who became a close friend.

"He was my adversary, he was my friend, he was somebody I held in the highest regard.

Jock Blathwayt. File photo / Mark Mitchell
Jock Blathwayt. File photo / Mark Mitchell

"He fought passionately for the rights and interests of his clients and we respected him immensely for that.

"I'm deeply saddened to hear he died only four days later."

The Carterton lawyer was part of a legal dynasty which spans back to 1842, and the very birth of the New Zealand legal system.

His sister Judith Fyfe, the former writer and broadcaster, is also a prominent lawyer, as was their brother Gerald, who died in 2013.

Masterton District Court One was packed last week for the final appearance of the barrister who was a central figure in high profile Wairarapa cases throughout his career such as Phillip Smith's 1996 trial, the trial of Stephen Williams over the murder of Coral Burrows, and the death of Lou Tawhai in 1992.

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Blathwayt was a keen sportsman, a golfer, tennis player, and cricketer.

His love of cricket was lifelong, and he was a Code of Conduct commissioner for Wairarapa Cricket for many years.

A love of law and cricket was shared with his friend Mark Elliott.

Elliott was the long-standing court manager in Masterton, and a longtime cricket player, umpire, and administrator.

Jock Blathwayt, right, in 2011 at the scene where Carterton woman Trish Engel, 64, was killed after a vehicle hit her on a pedestrian crossing. File photo / Wairarapa Times-Age
Jock Blathwayt, right, in 2011 at the scene where Carterton woman Trish Engel, 64, was killed after a vehicle hit her on a pedestrian crossing. File photo / Wairarapa Times-Age

"I think it was all said on Friday," he said. "But he did an excellent job when called on to adjudicate on misdemeanours. That was just an added thing he was involved in."

Elliott shared many hours with Blathwayt in court, at the cricket, and on the fairway.

"He was a very interesting character on the golf course. His competitive spirit came through. He was a hard man to get past, put it that way."

Among other civic roles, Blathwayt was a trustee of the Masterton Trust Lands Trust for 10 years from 1977 to 1987.