Belfast Telegraph

Call for legal aid reform as child murderer Barry McCarney's bill hits £320k and counting

By Adrian Rutherford

A violent sex offender who murdered a 15-month-old toddler received £320,000 from the taxpayer in legal aid, it has been revealed.

Barry McCarney's defence team was handed the massive payment to fund his case – even though he refused to take the stand and give evidence during his trial.

The thug was unanimously convicted in December 2012 of murdering Millie Martin at her home in Enniskillen three years earlier.

McCarney – who is appealing his conviction – was ordered to serve at least 25 years in prison.

Now it has emerged the cost of defending the 34-year-old – who is not Millie's father – totalled £317,863.

The figure was disclosed by Justice Minister David Ford following an Assembly question from Lord Morrow.

The DUP MLA said the public purse should not be left to foot the bill for McCarney's defence after he refused to give evidence during his 10-week trial.

"This money was provided to give this individual a fair trial, however, he then refused to give himself a fair and proper trial by not taking the stand – in that case legal aid should not be payable, it should be withdrawn," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"This is coming out of the public purse, therefore the public will be alarmed, angry and disturbed to hear of this type of practice."

The Belfast Telegraph previously reported how £30,000 had been paid in fees to McCarney's legal team before the case reached trial.

Lord Morrow said the entire legal aid system was in need of significant reform.

The cost of McCarney's bill will increase as his conviction has been appealed. The appeal has not yet been heard.

In December 2012 a jury took just three hours to unanimously convict McCarney, who is formerly of Woodview Crescent in Trillick, of murdering Millie Martin.

McCarney was also convicted of sexually assaulting the toddler and causing grievous bodily harm.

The trial heard that McCarney began a relationship with Millie's mother, Rachael, in August 2009 and moved into the family home in Enniskillen within weeks.

Millie died in hospital after suffering a blow to the back of her head. During the trial it emerged that she had sustained 21 fractured ribs, some of which were a month old, heavy bruising and a burnt finger before she died.

Seven of Millie's ribs were broken by a force equivalent to that of a significant traffic accident.

In court, Millie's mother described her former partner as a "monster".

Jailing McCarney for at least 25 years, a judge told him he was a deeply manipulative individual devoid of social norms.

Ms Martin later said the sentence wasn't long enough.

FACTFILE

Barry McCarney's legal aid costs:

Solicitor – £167,030

Junior Counsel – £29,748

Senior Counsel – £121,085

Total – £317,863

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