Ewan Crawford

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The Honourable
Ewan Crawford
Chief Justice of Tasmania
In office
24 April 2008 – 8 April 2013
Preceded by Peter Underwood
Succeeded by Alan Blow
Judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania
In office
Personal details
Born (1941-04-08) 8 April 1941 (age 74)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Ewan Charles Crawford, AC (born 8 April 1941) is an Australian judge and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania.

Crawford was born in Launceston to parents Sir George and Lady Crawford. He went to Launceston Church Grammar School.

He became a student of law in 1959 and worked as an Associate to Chief Justice Stanley Burbury.[1]

He graduated from University of Tasmania on 12 May 1964 with a Bachelor of Laws with Honours.[1] He was employed by Douglas and Collins, Barristers and Solicitors, in Launceston as an employed solicitor.[2] At his swearing-in, he relates that he had to send away his first client so that he could ask somebody to help him with his advice. He then gave the wrong advice to his second client, and had to call him back to set it straight. He took a year off in 1965 to travel overseas and returned as an employed solicitor in 1966. In 1968 he was made a partner of the firm.[2] In that same year he married Robyn on 18 May, and they now have two sons and a daughter.

He was a Council Member of the Law Society of Tasmania between 1972 to 1984. He became President of the Law Society for 1979–1980. He was also involved in the Northern Regional Law Society and the Northern Area Legal Assistance Committee.

In 1982 fellow partner at the firm Douglas & Collins, Randall Askeland, murdered his wife Wendy Askeland. She was hit in the head with an iron bar at least five times whilst in bed at her Launceston home. Askeland sent another Douglas & Collins partner, John Scott, into the home on the pretense of taking a message to her, where he found the body. Askeland had brought the iron bar from his shack at Low Head some time before. Askeland denied guilt, then confessed, then pleaded "not guilty". He was found guilty of murder by a Supreme Court jury in 1983. Crawford had to give evidence at the trial. Askeland denied he was in Launceston on the night of the murder and said he was at a stamp-collecting meeting in Hobart organised by another stamp-collector, Malcolm Groom under the auspices of the Tasmanian Philatelic Society. Askeland had in fact left the stamp meeting early, drove to his Hobart motel, telephoned his wife, then drove to Launceston (2 hours away), committed the murder, and drove back to Hobart (another 2 hours away). A number of stamp collectors were called to give evidence, Malcolm Groom, Trevor Ross and John Howell. Askeland was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by Justice Cosgrove. Askeland's infant children, Richard and Katharine-Lucy, were placed in the care of their maternal grandparents, Mr and Mrs Grant Mold. In the absence of a financial settlement from Askeland, Grant Mold had to go back to work to raise the grandchildren. Askeland's vast stamp collection - kept hidden by his father Harald Askeland at his College Street, Launceston, home - was sold to Melbourne stamp dealer Richard Juzwin in the year 2000, reportedly for $400,000.[3]

In 1988 Crawford was appointed as a judge of Tasmania's Supreme Court.[2] He was appointed to the Council of the University of Tasmania in 1997.[4] He is a Member of the Board of Legal Education, being a member since 1997, and a Member of the Law Admissions Consultative Committee since 1995.

In 2002 Crawford was made a Fellow of the University of Tasmania.[5]

It was announced on 8 April 2008[6] that Crawford was to be appointed chief justice following the appointment of Peter Underwood as Governor of Tasmania.[2] His swearing in ceremony was held on 24 April 2008.

He is the first chief justice in Australia to have done away with the red and white robes and long ceremonial wigs in the Supreme Court.[7] saying "Personally I feel they're out of date and unnecessary".


Legal offices
Preceded by
Peter Underwood
Chief Justice of Tasmania
Succeeded by
Alan Blow