Ten murder cases delayed in one day due to lawyers’ fee dispute

The dispute centres on fees recieved by lawyers
The dispute centres on fees recieved by lawyers

The continuing dispute over Legal-Aid funded Crown Court cases has once again resulted in ten murder trials being adjourned to a future and as yet unknown date for trial.

The 13 defendants involved the cases - which span across Downpatrick, Craigavon, Antrim and Belfast - have yet even to be formally arraigned before the Crown Court.

The cases include a man accused of shaking his baby to death, a man accused of a double Samuari sword killing, a couple charged with the murder of man whose body was found in a wheelie bin and three members of the same family who are facing charges linked to the fatal shooting of a man.

At Belfast Crown Court today (Friday) Mr Justice Tracey was informed that none of the ten listed murder cases were in a position to proceed as they were all effected by the current dispute over the withdrawal of services.

When informed by various prosecution and defence lawyers the cases could not proceed, Mr Justice Tracey urged the various parties “to make as much progress as possible, not withstanding the difficult circumstances that have arisen”.

The review court judge added that this should be done so that when the withdrawal of services issue is resolved “cases are ready to be listed and everybody is ready to go as quickly as possible.”

Each of the ten listed cases were subsequently re-listed for review again in six weeks time.

However, the court was told that one of the cases may be deemed to be considered “as an exceptional case” by legal aid authorities which may lead to a “disposal of the case” .... as some conclusion maybe reached on doctors reports.

An eleventh murder case, although formally arraigned before the Crown Court, has also been caught up in the dispute, and like the others was also adjourned for six weeks.