Leading Midlands lawyer Gerald Challinor has died in Worcestershire Royal Hospital aged 83.

Born in West Bromwich, the son of a police chief superintendent, he attended Holly Lodge Grammar School where he was head boy.

After serving in the Royal Air Force during the war, Mr Challinor became articled to William Hadgkiss in Handsworth and qualified as a solicitor in 1950.

He left to set up his own practice on Smethwick High Street and then, after spending a brief period with Higgs & Sons at Brierley Hill, was joined by Jack Roberts to form Challinor & Roberts.

The practice flourished. When Mr Roberts retired in 1980, Mr Challinor continued as senior partner.

He was a member of the Round Table movement, Rotary and the Masons. He served for many years in the Special Constabulary and, prior to the formation of the Crown Prosecution Service, became the first choice as prosecuting solicitor on behalf of the police both at Smethwick and West Bromwich.

A friend noted: "He was a formidable and highly respected magistrates court advocate and many of today's senior members of the Bar and the local judiciary owe much to the verbal good hidings they received from Gerald if they had the temerity to defend a guilty villain who he was prosecuting."

Mr Challinor stood down from private practice in 1985 and was succeeded as senior partner b y Trevor Lee who remains in that position.

However, he continued with his lifelong passion for criminal advocacy by acting as an agent for the CPS until he finally retired in 1991.

In the intervening years the practice expanded considerably merging with Gwynn Garrett & Co in 1983, Thomas Cooksey & Co in 1989, Lyon Clark in 1996 and this year with Cart-wright & Lewis.

The firm currently has a total staff of 250, of whom 120 are fee earners including 33 partners.

It is now represented through offices at Birmingham city centre, Edgbaston, Harborne and West Bromwich and has specialist teams in most legal disciplines.

A colleague said: "Many in the present practice and elsewhere owe Gerald a great debt of gratitude for their introduction to the law."

He is survived by his wife Sylvia, his two daughters Anne and Elizabeth, son Jonathan and three grandchildren.