THEY have jailed some of Hampshire’s most dangerous criminals and listened to the county’s most harrowing cases.
Usually seen dressed in their dark robes and traditional white wigs, they are responsible for upholding justice in one of the most important courts in the land.
But for one night only senior judges at Winchester Crown Court were unrecognisable as they ditched their robes and sashayed down the catwalk for charity.
Cheered on by 180 guests His Honour Judge Keith Cutler, His Honour Judge Guy Boney and Judge Susan Evans QC strutted like never before. Laughter filled the usually sombre court building as they were joined by solicitors, ushers, probation officers, cleaners and security staff to model vintage designs.
With clothes supplied by Winchester outfitters Vintage Hound and Stardust Years the court’s first floor gallery was transformed into a catwalk in aid of the Witness Support Service.
His Honour Judge Cutler could be seen twirling under the instruction of compere Sylvia Anderson-Lewis, who was taking a break from her duties on the reception desk, while Judge Evans posed like a professional.
From Hawaiian shirts to trilby-style hats and statement bow-ties, there was something for every fashionista.
Diminutive model Archie could have caused controversy for wearing “a beautiful blond fur coat” were it not for the fact that he is His Honour Judge Boney’s labrador.
But while the event was light-hearted the cause for which they were raising money is not.
Winchester’s Crown Court is the most senior in the Western Circuit, with around 20 murder trials held there each year, as well as major rape, robbery and fraud cases.
The Witness Service’s team of volunteers support vulnerable witnesses before and after they give evidence.
So crucial is the charity’s input that senior Gloucester police officers wrote to thank them for helping to secure the conviction of infamous multi-murderer Rosemary West after her Winchester trial.
Witness Support manager Carolyn Martin said the event raised £3,000, which will be used to further train her band of 30 volunteers.
“A month ago we had only sold 40 tickets – so we were over the moon when nearly 200 turned up,” she said.
“And we were surprised to find how the court lends itself to having a catwalk.”