Author(s): Edmund Campion
The extraordinary story of how a devoted nun became an equally devoted campaigner for justice- as a successful criminal defence lawyer. When Yvonne Benedicta Swift entered the Sacre Coeur convent in Rose Bay in 1938, she was determined to dedicate herself to religious life. But in the 1970s she did something unusual: retrained as a lawyer, established her own practice and defended some of Sydney's most notorious criminals. In her shift to the law, 'Swifty', as she was known, left behind an impressive career as principle of the Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart, and later Sancta Sophia College at the University of Sydney, Australia. In her legal practice she took on clients who she believed had been wronged, especially by the legal system itself. Known for her plain-speaking approach and her deeply compassionate outlook, Swifty went on to represent the likes of convicted murderers Douglas Rendell and Arthur Loveday, underworld figure Bill Bayeh, and Bandidos gang members for everything from traffic offences to murder. The story of this extraordinary women, who treated everyone from bishops to bikies equally, is a truly unusual and remarkable one.
Edmund Campion is a Sydney priest and writer whose books include Rockchoppers: Growing up Catholic in Australia (1982) and Australian Catholic Lives (2014). He has been chair of the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts and a judge of numerous literary awards. Lecturer in history at the Catholic Institute of Sydney for 25 years, he was awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Sydney and Australian Catholic University.