Accused makes his own bail application ... and wins
An alleged robber has told a judge he had approached numerous non-striking solicitors but was told “that they cannot represent me”.
Making a bail application at Belfast Crown Court on his own behalf, 20-year-old William Patterson told Judge Aiden Devlin he had tried to get new legal representation for himself but without success.
Judge Devlin told him there were solicitors’ firms willing to act and the Ministry of Justice has a list of solicitors not participating in the strike. But Patterson replied that he had tried “four or five different solicitors” but they all told him they would not represent him.
Patterson, with an address c/o Hydebank YOC, faces two counts of robbery, one of theft and one of receiving stolen goods relating to offences alleged to have occurred on February 16 last year.
In objecting to the bail application, prosecuting lawyer Douglas Edmondson said there were concerns over Patterson reoffending due to his criminal record.
During an exchange between Patterson and the judge, Judge Devlin revealed that Patterson had amassed 151 previous convictions over a 15-page criminal record, describing it as “appalling”.
Asked why he should release him on bail, Patterson told the judge his previous bail was only breached because he did not want to live in a hostel with sex offenders and that as a father of four young children: “I'm their daddy and they need me out there.”
Judge Devlin also heard evidence from his counsellor that Patterson was drug-free, has not reoffended since the allegations and was “trying to turn his life around”. He granted Patterson bail on condition that he live in an approved hostel, observe a curfew, is electronically tagged and does not drink alcohol.
Judge Devlin warned Patterson that any breach would result in him being “brought back before the court before you know it”, and that in all probability no further bail would be granted.
The large majority of criminal law firms and barristers in Northern Ireland are refusing to accept new cases in protest at the new reduced fees scheme brought in by Justice Minister David Ford.