High-profile barrister mourned

Retired criminal barrister Adrian Gundelach is being mourned by the Queensland legal community after he passed away on 11 June.

He was considered one of the characters of the state’s legal profession.

His life will be celebrated at St Ignatius Church, Toowong, from 1pm on Tuesday, 25 June.

Queensland Law Society Special Counsel (Ethics) Shane Budden compiled this tribute with the assistance of Judge Judy Dick, and solicitors Kathleen Berck and Paul Gleeson who generously contributed anecdotes.

It seemed every big murder case landed in his lap when he was prosecuting for the DPP, and with good reason – he was pretty much always the best man for the job.

Former colleagues describe him as the best cross-examiner at the bar in his time, and also someone who was liked by juries and could both charm and mesmerise them. That said, he never backed away from a fight and could be blunt to the point of abrasion if it suited him.


Adrian was also noted for his wit. On one occasion, when the judge entered the room at the start of the trial and Adrian and his opponent rose, the judge commented: “Well, you two look like bookends”.

The instant response from Adrian was: “Yes, your honour, but the fiction section is at that end of the shelf and the non-fiction section is at this one.”

He was also known as a great and caring colleague. When one of his friends at the bar had a child in hospital with a serious illness, Adrian appeared unannounced with a teddy bear that was larger than the average human, cheering the child no end.

When speaking with his former colleagues for this article, the phrase that came up time and again was ‘larger than life’ which is how I suspect all who met him remember him. In court, and at the bar – and of course on the social side of the law – he was an imposing and influential figure.

Adrian passed away on 11 June 2024 after a long battle with illness, and the legal profession lost one of its ornaments.

Queensland Law Society and its members send our condolences to his loved ones and salute his immense contribution to the legal profession.

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