MELBOURNE LAWYER Peter Hayes QC has died in an Adelaide hospital, 11 days after being found unconscious in a hotel room.
Adelaide police spokeswoman, acting inspector Denise Gray, told AAP that police had been informed of 54-year-old Hayes’ death, but could not confirm when he died. “I know that the detectives were notified but I don’t know exactly what time,” she said.
Hayes had been in a coma in the Royal Adelaide Hospital’s intensive care unit after being found naked and unconscious in his Stamford Plaza Hotel room by client, former bikie gang member Tony Sobey.
The barrister was in Adelaide to represent Sobey in a Federal Court case over a failed investment scheme.
Hayes, a lawyer since 1973 who took silk in 1988, specialised in alternative dispute resolution, banking and finance, bankruptcy, commercial law and corporations and securities.
Victorian Bar chairman Michael Shand QC said Hayes was a member of the Bar for over 34 years, 18 of which he was Queen’s Counsel. He added that Hayes was “a courageous and determined advocate” who will be missed by many. The family will be holding a private funeral service.
A 28-year-old Kilburn woman, who had dinner with Hayes on the evening before he died, has been summonsed to appear in court for allegedly administering a drug of dependence to Hayes.
Claims that drug use is common within the upper echelons of the legal profession have been the subject of public debate since Hayes was found. Melbourne barrister Peter Faris QC told Lawyers Weekly that cocaine use is rife among barristers and solicitors at parties and in social settings.
However, the Victorian Bar’s Shand has dismissed Faris’ claims as unsubstantiated.