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Raymond Hudson Dunn (1910–1971)

by Gary Presland

This article was published:

Raymond Hudson Dunn (1910-1971), lawyer and football administrator, was born on 21 June 1910 at Geelong, Victoria, second son of Thomas Dunn (1884-1953), constable, and his wife Mary Ellen, née Hudson, both Victorian born. A member (from 1906) of the Victoria Police Force, Tom was then serving at his first station. Impressed with his intelligence and efficiency, his superiors transferred him in 1924 to headquarters at Russell Street, Melbourne. In 1927-37 he successively worked as a special adviser and assistant to (Sir) Thomas Blamey and to Alexander Duncan. Dunn was awarded the Royal Victorian medal in 1934 and retired as superintendent—second in rank only to the chief commissioner—on 15 June 1944.

Ray Dunn attended schools at Geelong and Essendon, and gained a scholarship to the University of Melbourne (LL.B., 1930; LL.M., 1932) where, in his final year, he won the Supreme Court judges' prize. On 2 June 1934 at St Teresa's Catholic Church, Essendon, he married a milliner Marie Ellen Whelan; they were to have two daughters before being divorced. At St Philip's Anglican Church, Sydney, on 3 November 1951 he married a hairdresser Kathleen Monica Patricia Foster-Wightman; they had a son and were later divorced.

Balding, bespectacled and plump, with a deep, gravelly voice, Dunn pursued his legal career in the magistrates' courts. He chose to work as a solicitor and declined subsequent inducements to become a barrister. None the less, he achieved a reputation as an outstanding defence lawyer of stunning mental agility. He acted for his clients against police prosecutions of any type, but his speciality was legislation relating to gaming. In 1967 his successful defence of a truck driver charged with exceeding the .05 blood-alcohol reading was brilliant in its simplicity and resulted in an amendment that year to the Motor Car Act (1958).

Dunn's close association with the police force was continual, both in the courtroom and elsewhere. From 1956 he had lectured on prosecution and criminal law in courses at the Detective Training School and the Victoria Police College. He acted as legal counsel for police on numerous occasions. About 1966 he was engaged by the Victoria Police Association to defend members of the force who had been counter-summonsed by people they had arrested: in more than eighty such cases, his defence failed in only two. A part-time lecturer in criminal procedure at the university in 1952-65, he was also an outstanding after-dinner speaker.

Passionately interested in Australian Rules, Dunn had joined the Richmond Football Club through his friendship with Martin Bolger, a policeman and back-pocket player for the 'Tigers'. Dunn was a vice-president (from 1940) and president (1964-71). He successfully negotiated the right for Richmond to play their home games at the Melbourne Cricket Ground from 1965. Whereas Richmond had not won a premiership since 1943, under his administration the club took the flag in 1967 and 1969. After suffering from diabetes for a decade, Dunn died of a coronary occlusion on 26 August 1971 at his Metung holiday home and was buried in St Kilda cemetery. He was survived by the children of his two marriages. His estate was sworn for probate at $239,264.

Select Bibliography

  • J. A. Hetherington, Blamey (Melb, 1954)
  • Victoria Police Journal, 39, no 12, May 1970, p 303, 41, no 5, Oct 1971, p 125
  • Argus (Melbourne), 16 June 1944
  • Herald (Melbourne), 1 June 1967, 26 Sept 1969, 26 Aug 1971
  • Age (Melbourne), 27 Aug 1971
  • Australian, 27 Aug 1971
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 27 Aug 1971
  • Dunn file (Law Institute of Victoria records).

Citation details

Gary Presland, 'Dunn, Raymond Hudson (1910–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (Melbourne University Press), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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