Vale Peter Thomas

CLANT is saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Thomas and express our condolences to his loved ones.

Peter was a long term Clanter having joined CLANT in the early days and serving as Treasurer for many years and worked with Jenny Blockland as President. Peter took his role as Treasurer very seriously and is one of those credited with getting CLANT into good financial shape, which is still the position it is in today. He is also the one we can thank for the beautiful Bali Hyatt being selected as the traditional bi-annual criminal law conference venue.

Renowned for travelling to the Bali conference with only a toothbrush and buying everything else there, Peter was a regular member of the CLANT players who would appear in the traditional Bali conference production. Rex Wild recalls Peter appearing in at least three plays, in 2001, 2005 and 2009.

A committed Police officer, Prosecutor and lawyer, Peter was known for his quirky sense of humour and his love for his family.

Peter passed away at Royal Darwin Hospital on 25 January 2022.

Rex Wild QC who knew Peter for many years, has shared some of his memories of his colleague and friend –

For many years, Peter Thomas was an integral part of the Criminal Lawyer’s Association of the Northern Territory (CLANT).  He was a member of the committee, undertaking the role of Treasurer for a number of years – at least 10, on my estimate – and participated in its wonderful biennial Bali Conference.  During the nineties, as a committee member, he visited Bali at the end of the non-conference year with Lyn Wild and other committee members to choose the venue for the following year’s conference.  It was almost inevitable that the Bali Hyatt would be chosen in those years.  He was part of the organising team and played a major role in conducting each conference.

In August 2011, an impromptu lunch was held at the Noodle House in Darwin to recognise the 25 year anniversary of the birth of CLANT.  Colin McDonald wrote of that occasion in BALANCE and noted the presence of Peter at the lunch, along with other legal luminaries.  It should be remembered that Peter was not only a senior and experienced police officer and prosecutor, but also a qualified lawyer.

As to the latter, Peter was the Officer-in-Charge of Summary Prosecutions for most of the period 1997-2005.  That group was then under the management, loosely expressed, of the Director of Public Prosecutions.  In the annual report of the DPP during those years, the contribution of Peter and the team under his charge was noted as first-class, observing the spirit of the MOU between the DPP and the Commissioner of Police.  It was a strong and viable relationship which provided good service to the community.  It also led to a strong friendship between Peter and the Director.

Peter was interested in prosecuting theory and practice.  He attended at least two conferences of the International Association of Prosecutors.  The fact that one of them was held in Beijing, where his then fiancée Sophia was living, is irrelevant.  I remember, Lyn and I, and Jack Karczewski, being introduced to Sophia while there.

In this century, Peter brought Sophia to the Bali Conference and later his sons, Jack and William, on a number of occasions.  He was very proud of them.  Their subsequent academic success in Darwin has justified his pride.

Someone wrote of the Bali Conference – I think in about 1997 – that it was “Hard work in pleasant surroundings”. Peter adopted those words and would often talk of the Bali Conference affectionately in those terms.  He made sure, for his part, that it fulfilled that description – for him and the other attendees.

Peter was an incredibly well-read and intelligent man.  He had a quirky sense of humour, and style, and an engaging laugh.  He will be missed.