Jury’s out for solicitor after 50 years of crime

Local solicitor Paul Bastiman has retired
Local solicitor Paul Bastiman has retired

Whatever crime or whatever case he was defending in Whitby over the last half a century - Paul Bastiman never called it petty.

While it may have been a far cry from what he was used to down south he learned quickly that lesser crimes, even in small towns and sleepy rural villages, can have just as much impact on peoples lives.

Mr Bastiman has just retired from 50 years in business with the Colin Brown and Kidson practice on Wellington Road and has seen all sorts of cases come up before him over the years but he will always remember the first one he did on his return to Whitby after a spell living and working in Southend.

He said: “My last case in Southend was a four handed armed robbery in a shop. A shot gun was fired and blew the ceiling off.

“When I came back to Whitby on the first day they said could I do a case at Whitby Magistrate’s Court. It was just a guilty plea for someone that had siphoned half a gallon of petrol from a car parked on Spa Drive.

“I said ‘is that it?’ and set off to the court to do a bit of mitigation on behalf of the youth.

“When I addressed the bench ‘we are talking about half a gallon of petrol , it is what you would consider petty crime’.

“The chair of the bench jumped on me and said ‘Mr Bastiman, we do not regard this as petty crime.’

“The previous week I had been doing an armed robbery, but I never referred to anything as petty crime again.”

In fact it was that different attitude to life that convinced him to move his family back to Whitby.

After finishing his training and being incorporated on to the Roll of Solicitors in 1967, he had gone into partnership at a law firm in Southend where he thought there would be more cases and opportunities for business.

But after a visit back home to Whitby, where he was born and bred, he decided Yorkshire was a better place to bring up the family.

He returned in 1974 and was asked to join the practice at CBK.

There was no Crown Prosecution Service at that time so Mr Bastiman was also asked to work as an adviser to North Yorkshire Police on its files.

When legal aid came in and the remuneration for criminal work became less he started doing litigation work - which he said often made him unpopular in Whitby.

“I usually dealt with contentious work or people that arguing over one thing and another.

“If I acted for the husband or the wife and did a good job, the other party wouldn’t be very happy. You can only please 50% of people.”

However, Mr Bastiman of Stakesby Road said he had loved every day of his job.

“I considered various professions but was persuaded this was a fairly secure sort of living and enjoyed it ever since.

“A lot of people I know didn’t like their job and lived for the thought of Friday afternoon and hated Monday mornings but I was quite the opposite.”

“I still enjoyed the challenges and meeting people. I have come across a complete cross-section of society - from the worst type of criminals to aristocracy.”

Born on Love Lane in 1939, two months before the outbreak of war, Mr Bastiman grew up in Sleights and was educated at Fyling Hall School.

He now plans to spend more time with wife Sandra, their three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.