Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Neil Lennon bomb plot man's £10k pre-trial bill

Celtic manager Neil Lennon
Celtic manager Neil Lennon

One of the men who sent parcel bombs to Celtic manager Neil Lennon ran up a legal aid bill of more than £10,000 before his trial even started, it has emerged.

Neil McKenzie and Trevor Muirhead were convicted last month of sending devices to the former Northern Ireland international and other high-profile supporters of the club.

It has now emerged that 42-year-old McKenzie racked up £10,529 in legal aid fees before the five-week trial began.

The figures were revealed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board after a Freedom of Information request.

And the final bill is likely to be substantially higher because not all the lawyers have submitted their bills — a process which can take up to four months.

A jury convicted McKenzie and Muirhead (44) of conspiring to assault Mr Lennon, former Labour MSP Trish Godman and the late Paul McBride QC by sending devices they believed were capable of exploding and causing injury.

The pair were also convicted of sending a device to the Irish republican organisation Cairde Na hEireann in Glasgow.

Lawyer John Scott QC said the legal aid system was a “vital protection” of individuals' rights.

“The final conviction here was substantially different than the original charges. This is in no small part due to the important work done by lawyers paid through legal aid,” he said.

The Scottish Legal Aid Board said it works “within the parameters of the justice system and its legislation”.

The pair were originally accused of conspiring to murder their targets but that was thrown out due to insufficient evidence.

They were eventually convicted of the conspiracy to assault charge, and are to be sentenced this week.

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