Belfast Telegraph

Double murderer Hazel Stewart switches lawyers ahead of appeal bid

By Liam Clarke

Hazel Stewart's hopes for an appeal against her double murder conviction will be delayed after she switched lawyers.

Stewart, currently working in the kitchen at Hydebank prison, intends to appeal, but leave to take one has not yet been granted by the courts.

"We are still at the talking stage," her husband David Stewart told the Belfast Telegraph.

"There are still some papers to come from the court service. The appeal is going to be slow. It is still a little while off."

He said they had changed their legal team and pointed out the new lawyers were still reading papers in the case.

Papers seeking leave to appeal were lodged on March 23 by Hastings and Company of Ballymoney, her trial lawyers. But the work has now passed to Hassan and Company of Londonderry.

Michael Maguire, the solicitor who is handling her case, said: "We have been reviewing the documents and court transcripts which run to thousands of pages. As far as the precise legal issues are concerned, we can't comment."

"This tragic case is both challenging and complex," he added.

Stewart's trial ended in March. Evidence available to her legal team then but not put before the court cannot be considered.

She cannot, for instance, argue that she should have given evidence. Appeals are normally on technical grounds, for instance by challenging the judge's advice to the jury.

David Stewart denied that the Baptist church was collecting money for her appeal and that a pastor had denounced her from the pulpit.

"The church has provided spiritual support for her, me and the family. That is all," he said.

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