Tragic Death of Wellington Law’s Beloved Eccentric . . And The Case That Ended His Legal Career

Tragic Death of Wellington Law's Beloved Eccentric . . And The Case That Ended His Legal Career

KC Recalls Court’s ‘Hostile and Dismissive’ Attitude

One of the individuals confirmed dead in the tragic Loafers Lodge fire last week was a beloved and “eccentric” former lawyer who took a case that helped propel his personal downfall.

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Melvin Joseph Parun, 68, known as Mel to his many friends at the criminal bar in the capital, was identified by the police as one of the five victims in the devastating fire on Adelaide Rd, suspected to be an act of arson.

He was the brother of well known tennis player Onny Parun and was himself a highly accomplished tennis player. He had earlier coached tennis in Germany.

A former criminal lawyer in the Wellington District Court, he was well-liked by his colleagues who admired his kindness and dedication to his work. He also had a reputation for taking on all cases, regardless of the odds of winning, one of which lead to a professional and personal impact from which he never recovered.

According to lawyer Val Nisbet, who used to play tennis with Parun, he was not only a great tennis player but also a genuinely likable individual.

Robert Lithgow KC, another colleague and practising from Capital Chambers, described Parun as someone who lacked any malice, seldom complained and was genuinely liked by both people and clients. Despite facing challenging times.

The Final Case

However, Parun’s life took a downturn when he and lawyer Kenneth Bulmer took a legal case against the Court of Appeal’s practice of allowing High Court judges to sit on Court of Appeal cases before returning to the High Court. Lithgow recalled being present during some of the hearings and feeling that the court was openly hostile and dismissive towards Parun.

The outcome of the case did not favor Parun, and he did not handle it well, ultimately choosing to move to Australia to work as a company lawyer.

Many lawyers in the Wellington community lost contact with Parun after he relocated, and some were surprised to learn of his death as they believed he was still in Australia.

Tragic Death of Wellington Law's Beloved Eccentric . . And The Case That Ended His Legal Career

The contentious Court of Appeal case had left a bitter taste for some, with Lithgow (pictured) and others believing that Parun was in the right. Tony Ellis, a prominent human rights lawyer, saw Parun’s legal battles with Bulmer as the beginning of his downfall, describing the situation as becoming acrimonious.

Ellis believed that mental health issues may have played a role, though during those years, such concerns were not as well-recognized.

Prior to the challenging period, Ellis remembered Parun as a dedicated and capable barrister, albeit somewhat eccentric, with a genuine passion for his work. He excelled in the District Court, showcasing his theatrical skills and strong grasp of facts.

Nigel Moody, who attended university with Parun, described him as a fantastic tennis player and a bright, kind, and generous man. The news of Parun’s death deeply saddens Moody, especially considering his concern for Parun’s children.

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