New South Wales District Court Judge Peter Zahra, who presided over the trial of former singer-songwriter manager Guy Sebastian, has died after a stroke.
Last week, Judge Zahra began presiding over a high-profile case involving the pop star and his former manager Titus Day, who is accused of embezzling $ 900,000. Australian idol the winner.
The trial was scheduled for commemoration Monday before Judge James Bennett, who informed the jury of Judge Zahra’s death and adjourned the trial until next week.
“I can say that he is a very good friend, and everyone here is feeling the loss, as you can imagine,” Judge Bennett told the court, ABC reports.
Sebastian, 40, was due to resume testifying in the case on Thursday, but was unable to do so after a court said Judge Zahra was ill.
Also on Thursday, Sebastian also confirmed that he tested positive for COVID, which raised further doubts during the trial when he began a seven-day isolation.
In a post on social media, Sebastian said he was “absolutely shocked” by his positive test results and the impact he would have on his national tour. This week the shows in Cairns and Townsville were due to be postponed.
“I am very sorry to disappoint my fans, and I promise to do something even more special as soon as I can express my gratitude for your patience and understanding,” he said.
However, Judge Zahra later transferred the suspicion to a stroke. He was taken to the hospital of Royal Prince Alfred Sydney.
A statement issued by Zahra’s family on Monday said he died peacefully on Sunday surrounded by his family.
They described him as “a special soul who touched the lives of everyone he met.”
“We have received many wonderful messages and memories that show what he was like, he had a big heart and he wanted everyone to achieve more than they ever thought possible,” the statement said.
“In honor of our dad and his life, we encourage everyone to drink hot chocolate and share dad’s jokes in his honor!
“Those who knew him would know that he liked a good (bad) joke!”
Judge Zahra was an attorney prior to her appointment to the NSW District Court in 2007.
He has presided over many high-profile cases, including a lawsuit over Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes, who was convicted of sex crimes, and cheater Paul Douglas Peters.
The president of the New Wales Bar Association, Michael McHugh, said the entire legal profession was mourning his death.
“Judge Zahra has been a leader in the legal profession and a role model for many,” he said.
“We have lost a respected judge and a very good man.
“Judge Zahra’s death is a great loss for the administration of justice in New Wales.”
The Aboriginal Legal Service described Judge Zahra as a close friend.
“For many years he was a teacher, friend and role model for many of our lawyers,” said Carly Warner, head of the Aboriginal Legal Service (NSW / ACT).
“After receiving the sad news of the judge’s death today, my colleagues shared memories of him as a warm and generous leader and a proud man from the working class who worked hard and passionately to rise to the highest levels of his profession,” she said.
– with AAP