Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Legal aid row may mean man avoids jail

A man convicted of imprisoning and wounding his victim could avoid prison because no barrister will represent him for the new legal aid payment rates on offer, a High Court judge warned.

Mr Justice Treacy raised the possibility of criminal proceedings against Raymond Brownlee being halted when he comes to be sentenced due to the "stalemate".

He is now being urged to strike down the Crown Court Proceedings Amendment Rules introduced in 2011 following a stand-off between defence lawyers and Justice Minister David Ford.

The Belfast man was found guilty of false imprisonment, threats to kill and wounding with intent at Belfast Crown Court.

Towards the end of the trial he was left with no legal representation when his lawyers came off record following a breakdown in their relationship with him.

He brought judicial review proceedings over the amended fees.

Mr Justice Treacy found that Brownlee's legal aid rights were being denied by an inflexible fees regime. A ruling on remedies in the case is expected to be given later this week.

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