A ‘legendary’ regional daily court reporter is preparing to retire this week after 50 years in journalism.
John Hoskins will leave the Southern Daily Echo on Friday after reporting on crown court cases for the title for many decades and also being responsible for compiling a weekly True Crime section.
Judges and barristers at Southampton Crown Court were among those paying tribute to him at a special court session held to mark his retirement, in which Judge Peter Ralls presented him with a letter of thanks signed by all the serving judges.
He has covered some of the biggest court cases in Hampshire during his time at the Echo and has written a piece about the most memorable ones.
These include the Burgate House massacre in which five people were murdered by a live-in handyman, who had recently been fired, and two henchman.
Editor in chief Ian Murray said: “I am honoured to have been one of a string of editors who have had the privilege to work with John over the years.
“His professionalism has always shone through and, what’s extremely important to any editor, I have always known him to be a safe pair of hands when handling sensitive court copy.
“Covering court is not just a matter of turning up and recording what takes place. Reporting accurately what takes place in a British court of justice is both a requirement and a duty of any reporter, and John has fulfilled that role superbly in all the years I have worked with him.
“It is a cliché to say that John is one of a dying breed and that in these days, when few people spend a single decade doing the same job, it is impossible to see how anyone will be able to boast of such a wonderful continuity of service, yet that is the case.
“John has earned the respect of all who have worked with him both at the paper and at the courts, but most of all, his readers.”
John will continue to put together the True Crime section and will also cover some horse racing after retiring.
At the court session to mark John’s retirement, court staff, barristers and judges paid tribute to him and congratulated him on his long career.
Retired judge Derwin Hope, said: “At meetings of judges I always told them that we had an excellent local newspaper which reports properly and fairly by a first class team and you John are in the highest rank of all. You are a legend in your own time.”
John said: “I have enjoyed the entire experience of being able to report about the major cases.
“I suspect that I am probably one of the last reporters who is still working who covered the Assizes and the Quarter Sessions.
“My job has been made so much easier through the incredible co-operation I have had over the years from all the court staff, solicitors, barristers and judges.”