Ruth Thomas

BA/LLB (Hons, First Class)

Ruth Thomas

BA/LLB (Hons, First Class)


Ruth is an experienced litigator, with more than 15 years’ experience in criminal prosecution work (both as a Crown Prosecutor and as a Senior Police Prosecutor).

Since becoming an independent barrister in 2019, Ruth’s practice has included a civil focus. Ruth was one of the first Counsel Assisting to be appointed from the Legal Panel to assist the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care. She continues to work as Counsel Assisting this Inquiry. In addition, Ruth advises on medico-legal/accident compensation disputes.

In the criminal law context, Ruth has prosecuted numerous criminal jury trials for serious violence, drug and sexual offending in both the District and High Courts. Ruth can take private instructions on criminal legal matters and is an approved legal aid provider for all levels of criminal work.

Ruth shares her experiences and advocacy knowledge as a trainer and currently leads advocacy training courses for the Police and other Government Department prosecutors.


  • New Zealand Bar Association
  • New Zealand Law Society

Contact Details

To contact Ruth please use the details below.


Superintendent of the Police Prosecution Service’s Gold Commendation for Ruth’s services to the Criminal Procedure Act implementation and training (2013)

Canterbury Earthquake Citation in recognition of Ruth’s legal work for the Police at the time of the state of emergency (2011)

Scholarship to attend one semester at Sheffield University UK (2003)

Criminal Law prize (2002)

Notable Experience

Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care

Appearing as Counsel Assisting at the first public hearing, the Contextual Hearing, in November 2019 and assisting with the investigation and preparation for public hearing of further substantive areas of the Royal Commission’s Inquiry.

Advocacy Trainer

Design and development of training material for the police on the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 and delivering training on the Police Prosecution Advocacy courses.

Criminal jury trials

Appearing as lead counsel in a range of criminal jury trials including:

– serious sexual offending with charges of, sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, and multiple charges of indecent assaults on young complainants

– serious violence offending with charges of, wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, threatening to kill, assault with a weapon, injuring with intent to injure (R v Dong) and (R v Feau)

Appearing as second counsel on a murder trial in the High Court in Nelson. Two defendants charged with murder during a robbery (R v Dempsey and Brunsell)

Appearing as third counsel on a murder trial in the High Court in Christchurch. The defendant was charged with two counts of murder, and eight counts of causing grievous bodily harm, after driving through a group of party-goers (R v Sila)