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First woman appointed as Chief Judge of District Court of NSW

Supreme Court Justice Sarah Huggett, who was the Director of Public Prosecutions’ sole instructing solicitor in the prosecution of serial killer Ivan Milat and who presided over the trial of convicted murderer Christopher Dawson, has been appointed Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW, becoming the first woman to hold the role.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 15 April 2024 The Bar
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Born in Moree as one of eight children, Her Honour, herself a mother of two, has been a contributor to improvements in the operation of the courts over many years, the NSW Attorney-General’s Department outlined in a statement.

Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court in 2023, Justice Huggett served with distinction on the NSW District Court bench for 12 years as she presided over many high-profile and complex matters that attracted widespread media interest, including the carnal knowledge trial of convicted murderer Christopher Dawson.

Her Honour joined the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in 1993 before beginning practice as a barrister and then being appointed a Crown prosecutor in 2001. She was the Director of Public Prosecutions’ sole instructing solicitor in the prosecution of serial killer Ivan Milat.


Sworn in as a District Court judge on 15 October 2012, Justice Huggett served as the court’s representative on the Consent Monitoring and Advisory Group Meeting and chair of the Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program steering committee and was one of the judges of the District Court’s Walama List.

The A-G’s Department also noted that Justice Huggett has stated that the lengthy sentences she has delivered in cases of sexual offence against women and children were designed to punish the offender, denounce their conduct, protect the community, and recognise the harm done to the victims.

Speaking about the appointment, NSW Attorney-General Michael Daley said: “I am delighted to appoint Justice Sarah Huggett to the role of Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW. She makes history by becoming the first woman Chief Judge, and she is richly deserving of that honour.

“NSW is set to gain a new Chief Judge with great breadth and depth of experience in criminal law.

“Justice Huggett is well respected by both her peers and the community, and I congratulate her warmly on her new role.”

NSW Chief Justice Andrew Bell added that Huggett J is a “highly respected judge”.

“The office of Chief Judge of the District Court of New South Wales is a most important one in the administration of justice in this state. The District Court is the largest trial court in the country, and its judges do difficult but vitally important work throughout the state,” Bell CJ said.

“Justice Huggett, as Chief Judge, will bring strong leadership to the court, drawing on her deep experience, integrity, strength of character, outstanding work ethic, sense of justice and commitment to public service. I greatly look forward to working with Her Honour, including on the Judicial Commission of New South Wales.”