The Streets Go Downhill

Sir Philip Whistler Street KCMG (1863–1938) was the eighth Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court. His father was a member of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly and his mother was a granddaughter of William Lawson, a member of the first expedition to find the first crossing across the Blue Mountains. [1]

Sir Kenneth Whistler Street, KCMG, KStJ, (1890–1972; son of Sir Philip) was elevated as a judge of the Supreme Court on 7 October 1931. He was Chief Justice and Lieutenant-Governor from 1950-1972.  [1]

Sir Laurence Whistler Street

Sir Laurence Whistler Street

Sir Laurence Whistler Street AC, KCMG, QC (born 1926, son of Sir Kenneth) was appointed as a judge of the NSW Supreme Court in the Equity Division. He became the state’s second-youngest Chief Justice when he was appointed in 1974 and was Lieutenant Governor from 1974 until 1988.  [1]

He sired a formidable legal family. His elder daughter, Sylvia Emmett, is a federal magistrate, his younger son, Alexander Whistler Street, is an SC (this reference from the wikipedia article last updated 7th September 2015) and his younger daughter, Sarah, is a solicitor turned head-hunter with Carmichael Fisher. His grandson, James Emmett, is a junior barrister in Sydney. Another grandson, Charles Street, is a maritime lawyer at Norton White.  A granddaughter, Isabella Street, is also a solicitor. Street’s son-in-law, the Hon. Justice Arthur Emmett, was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia. He was appointed to the New South Wales Court of Appeal at a formal ceremony on Thursday, 7 March 2013.  [1]

The word “Nepotism”, possibly unjustifiably, springs to mind.  I’m sure every member of the family has gained their office on merit.

Now into the fourth and fifth generations of this solid New South Wales family there are some cracks appearing.

Robert Emmett a former St Andrew’s Cathedral School maths teacher is the son of NSW judge Arthur Emmett and the grandson of former chief justice Sir Laurence Street. On 1st May 2015 he pleaded guilty to child sex offences committed while working as a teacher at SACS.  He appeared at Sydney’s District Court on Friday for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to three counts of filming a person’s private parts and one count of possessing child abuse material. The court heard the 38-year-old – whose name was previously suppressed – was arrested in August 2013 after he was caught using his phone to film up the skirt of a 21-year-old woman on a platform at Sydney’s Town Hall station. A bystander who spotted Emmett yelled “Why are you taking photos up that girl’s dress?”, facts state. [2]

It was this confrontation that led to police discovering a four-minute video on Emmett’s phone. The video, recorded on March 26, 2013, show Emmett going from one classroom to another, holding his camera phone at waist height, recording three 14-year-old girls at St Andrew’s. “The offender then engaged the students in conversation during which time he manoeuvred his phone to record up the skirts of (a student), recording her underwear,” facts state. [2]

On 7th September 2015, ABC Onlne News Site reported that; “The former St Andrew’s Cathedral School maths teacher, who is also the grandson of former chief justice of the NSW Supreme Court Sir Laurence Street, filmed three 14-year-old female students. Police also found more than 9,000 child abuse images on a portable hard drive at his home. [3]

Former teacher Robert Emmett AAP: Joel Carrett

Former teacher Robert Emmett
AAP: Joel Carrett

Today, Judge Ian McClintock sentenced Emmett to a two-year Intensive Correction Order (ICO) to be served in the community commencing September 17.  As part of the order he must do 32 hours of community service each month, continue to see his psychotherapist and undertake treatment programs. The judge called the child abuse material the “disturbing and perverted exploitation of children”. “It’s natural to feel sadness and empathy for the children and anger to those who exploited them,” he said. However, Judge McClintock noted medical advice that Emmett would receive better psychotherapy treatment out of prison. [3]

Which is the normal sentence for paedophiles and possessors of child pornography.

Or so I understand.

Isn’t it?

Alexander “Sandy” Street, Sydney Federal Circuit Court judge was appointed a judge by Federal Attorney-General George Brandis late last year and began on the bench this January.brandisstreets

Questions over the approach of Judge Alexander “Sandy” Street have emerged after his ruling that a severely disabled man did not have the right to travel with his guide dog was overturned. David Mulligan — who has cerebral palsy, severe mobility restrictions and is hearing- and sight-impaired — launched a claim against Virgin Australia earlier this year, challenging the airline’s refusal to let him travel with his guide dog. [4]

Sandy Street. Photo: Ben Rushton/Getty Images

Sandy Street. Photo: Ben Rushton/Getty Images

The Full Federal Court this week overturned Judge Street’s ruling that Virgin Australia had the right to refuse to board Mr Mulligan’s dog and ordered the airline pay $10,000 compensation. When Mr Mulligan’s case came before Judge Street in January, a speedy decision was made. After hearing the case, Judge Street ruled in favour of Virgin Australia, .Judge Street’s ruling was delivered ex tempore — on the spot — without retiring from the bench to consider reasons.In overturning the decision, judges Flick, Reeves and Griffiths described Judge Street’s decision to deliver the judgment so speedily as an error. [4]

For a Judge to be found “In Error” is normally a very severe castigation by his peers.

But wait. There is more!

The comments (above) follow earlier criticism by judges in the Full Federal Court of Judge Street, who was in two recent cases found to have denied migration appellants procedural fairness.[4]

In one of the cases an unrepresented Tamil asylum seeker was unable to present his case at a full hearing when Judge Street summarily dismissed the matter.The Full Federal Court said in that case that “serious issues relating to the procedural fairness of proceedings must arise [when] … an unrepresented applicant whose primary language is not English is called on, without notice, to mount arguments resisting the summary dismissal of his application”.[4]

Judge Street will come under further scrutiny later this month when a new appeal — by a Lebanese asylum seeker who also claims he was denied procedural fairness — is due to go before the Full Federal Court. [4]


The ABC this week broadcast exclusive reports which revealed Judge Street had found in favour of the Immigration Department in 252 of 254 cases put before him during the first half of this year, according to claims in a court document. [4]

The ABC has approached Senator Brandis for comment.”It is not appropriate for the Attorney-General to comment on proceedings before the federal courts,” a spokesman for Senator Brandis said.[4]

In other words, the Press has been told, by the Chief Law Officer of the land and the appointer of Judge Street,  in no uncertain terms;

“Nothing to see here. Move along!”

Author’s Note; This is not a suitable place to discuss the marital and financial difficulties of Judge Alexander “Sandy” Street  [5] Sufficient to say, Sir Humphrey would have thought him “Unsound”.


[1] wikipedia (12/09/2015)

[2] Daily Mail 1st May, 2015

[3] ABC Online News 7th Sept, 2015

[4] ABC Online News 11th Sept, 2015

[5] SMH 8th Sept, 2014

2 responses to “The Streets Go Downhill

  1. Robert Emmett’s name was never suppressed and his connection to the Street family was widely mentioned in the media at the time of the original charge.


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