Veteran Old Bailey court reporter David St George, who witnessed the most dramatic trials of four decades, has died at the age of 82.
In a masterful career dating back to 1969 he reported as a freelance for every newspaper from small weeklies to Fleet Street nationals.
St George reported on hundreds of major cases including the Kray twins, the Yorkshire Ripper, former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe and mass murderer Denis Nilsen.
But his press bench colleagues and his unrivalled contacts among judges and barristers will remember him primarily for his kindness, sympathy and friendship.
Many of those he first knew as junior barristers remained friends as they worked their way up to become senior judges even to the Court of Appeal.
A native of North London and son of Argentinian parents, he broke into journalism by teaming up with Reg Alexander to report from Clerkenwell Magistrates Court.
Arriving at the Old Bailey in his late 20s he developed a voluminous archive of filing cabinets full of press cuttings and his own immaculate shorthand notes on the back of the daily court list.
His memories of the great trials of the Central Criminal Court were equally precious to him. “A lot of famous bums have sat on those hard wooden seats'” he would say nodding at the dock in court one.
If pressed he would remember how spectators used to camp out overnight in the queue to the public gallery for the trial of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper.
He described Sutcliffe as “a sorrowful figure” in the dock who spoke, when he came to give evidence, with “a funny softly-spoken voice.”
In later years, St George’s usual good humour was sorely tested by what he saw as Fleet Street newspapers’ obsession with celebrities above the detail of court cases.
He nevertheless kept up nurturing his contacts among ushers, clerks and security guards with drinks in the Magpie and Stump, cigarettes for those who smoked (he didn’t) and even lottery tickets for stenographers.
He also fought an exhausting campaign for justice for his son Ryan who had suffered severe brain damage in a prison fall. After years of prevarication, the Home Office finally agreed a near £5 million compensation package.
David St George, of Kentish Town, died in UCL hospital of blood cancer.
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