Crown Prosecutor, 1949 - 1951
Judge, District Court of New South Wales, South-western District, 19/07/1951 - 10/09/1952
Chairman, Courts of Quarter Sessions, South-western District, 19/07/1951 - 10/09/1952
Acting Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 11/09/1952 - 12/10/1952
Puisne Judge, Supreme Court of New South Wales, 13/10/1952 - 07/05/1974
Chairman, Child Welfare Advisory Council, 1957
Fellow of Senate, University of Sydney, 1964 - 07/05/1974
Deputy Chancellor, University of Sydney, 1970 - 1971
Russell Le Gay Brereton was born on 1 June 1911 at Sydney, the son of Ernest Le Gay Brereton and his wife Lorna Beatrice nee Russell. He was educated at Knox Grammar School, Wahroonga, and at St Andrew's College, University of Sydney (BA Hons 1932, LLB Hons Class II 1937). In 1932 he achieved Class I Honours in Philosophy and Class II Honours in Latin for his Bachelor of Arts degree and won the University Medal for Philosophy. (1)
Brereton was an award wining student. He won a Public Exhibition scholarship to the University based upon his results in the Leaving Certificate examination of November 1928. In 1930 he was awarded the Lithgow Scholarship No.II for proficiency in Philosophy 1 and also the Gordon Scholarship from St Andrew's College. In 1932 he won the Wigram Allen Scholarship No.II for the most distinguished student entering the Law School from the Faculty of Arts, as well as the Gordon Scholarship again. He was active in student organisations: the Sydney University Arts Society (2nd year representative 1930), Sydney University Literary Society (Treasurer 1930), Sydney University Undergraduates' Association (Arts Faculty representative 1931/32, Committee member 1932/33 to 1933/34, President 1934/35, Vice-President 1935/36 - 1936/37); Students' Representative Union (Treasurer 1932/33, Member 1933/34, Vice-President 1934/35), and the Sydney University Union (Director 1931/32 - 1933/34). (2)
During his studies, Brereton worked at St Andrew's College, tutoring in Philosophy and History (1936), in Philosophy and History and Law (1937) and in Law (1938). In 1938 he was also vice-principal of St Andrew's College. (3)
Brereton was admitted to the New South Wales Bar on 19 November 1937 and practised out of 167 Phillip Street, Sydney, and from 1947 at 182 Phillip Street. A Council member of the New South Wales Bar Association from 1947/48 to 1949/50, he was a member of the Solicitors' Admission Board from at least 1949 to 1951. He was a Crown Prosecutor from 1949 to 1951. (4)
During World War II, Brereton served in the Australian Army. He transferred from the militia on 20 May 1940 and at the time of his discharge on 25 January 1946 was a Captain with 2/2 Machine Gun Battalion. He served in the Middle East, New Guinea and Borneo. (5)
On 19 July 1951, at the age of 41, Brereton was appointed a Judge of the District Court of New South Wales and a Chairman of Quarter Sessions for the South-western District. At the time he was the youngest Judge ever appointed to the New South Wales District Court. On 11 September 1952 he was made an Acting Judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales for three months. However on 13 October he was appointed a permanent Puisne Judge. He served until his death in 1974. (6)
Brereton had an interest in education and professional development. He was chairman of the Child Welfare Advisory Council from 1957. He was a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney from 1964 to 1974 and Deputy Chancellor in 1970-1971. He was co-founder and first president from 1967 to 1969 of the Australian Academy of Forensic Sciences. (7)
Brereton died on 7 May 1974 at Wahroonga after an illness of several years. He was survived by his wife Mary, whom he married on 3 December 1956, and their two sons. His son, Paul, was sworn in as a Judge of the Supreme Court on 15 August 2005.(8)
1. Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne, The Herald, 1955, p.115; 1959, p.117; 1962, p.114; 1965, p.119; 1968, p.120; 1971, p.132; Australian Law Journal, Vol.48, p.280 (May 1974); HP Heseltine, 'Brereton, Ernest Le Gay (1869-1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A070705b.htm (cited 24 October 2008); 'Supreme Court Judge dies', Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1974, p.10; HJH Henchman, A Court Rises: the lives and times of the judges of the District Court of New South Wales Supplement No.1 1959-1982, Judge 60, Syd., Law Foundation of New South Wales, 1982, n.p.; University of Sydney Calendar, 1932, p.437, 454, 461, 610; 1933, p.826; 1937, p.568; 1938, pp.398, 1032, http://calendararchive.usyd.edu.au/index.php (cited 12 and 27 May 2008).
2. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1930, pp.408, 546, 550-57, 787, 834-5, 974, 985; 1931, pp.505-13, 735, 838; 1932, pp.389, 512, 515, 738, 772, 775, 881, 884; 1933, pp.521, 749, 786, 901, 904; 1934, p.528, 764, 918, 920-21; 1935, pp.541, 783, 951; 1936, p.912; 1937, p.454.
3. University of Sydney Calendar, op.cit., 1936, p.853; 1937, p.723; 1938, pp.748-9.
4. Barrister and Solicitors Admission Boards; NRS 13665, Roll of Barristers, 17 February 1927 - 10 June 1955; Reel 2147, p.12; New South Wales Law Almanac, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1938, p.72; 1947, p.64; 1949, pp.44, 55; 1950, pp.44, 55; 1951, p.46; 'Bar Councillors 1940-1950', New South Wales Bar Association, http://www.nswbar.asn.au/docs/about/history/bclist1940_1950.php (cited 27 October 2008).
5. 'Brereton, Russell', Department of Veterans Affairs World War 2 Nominal Roll http://www.ww2roll.gov.au/script/veteran.asp?ServiceID=A&VeteranID=620209 (cited 24 October 2008); HJH Henchman, op.cit..
6. ibid.; Sydney Morning Herald, 9 May 1974, p.10; New South Wales Law Almanac for 1952, Sydney, NSW Government Printer, 1952, p.50; State Reports New South Wales, Sydney, Law Book Company Pty Ltd, Vol.52 (1952); New South Wales Law Reports, Sydney, Law Book Company Pty Ltd, 1974, Vol.1, p.xxi; Australian Law Journal, Vol.25, p.122 (19 July 1951); Vol.26, p.243 (22 September 1952).
7. Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; 'Fellows of Senate --- by date - Senate - The University of Sydney', http://www.usyd.edu.au/senate/fellows1850on.shtml (cited 27 October 2008); 'Deputy Chancellors - Senate - The University of Sydney', http://www.usyd.edu.au/senate/Deputychancellors.shtml (cited 24 October 2008); Michael Kirby, 'Forensic Science - what we have learned (sic)?'[online], Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, Vol.20, Issue 1, September 1987, pp.183-4, http://0-search.informit.com.au.library.newcastle.edu.au/fullText;dn=785887921694740:res=IELHSS (cited 27 October 2008).
8. Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 1974, p.75; Who's Who in Australia, op.cit.; 'Swearing in Ceremony of the Honourable Paul Le Gay Brereton ...', http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/Supreme_Court/ll_sc.nsf/pages/SCO_brereton150805 (cited 24 October 2008).