Taxpayers shelled out £500k to defend the thug who killed toddler Millie Martin
The legal bill for defending a remorseless killer who beat a toddler to death has spiralled to almost £500,000, it has been revealed.
Barry McCarney murdered Millie Martin in a crime which shocked Northern Ireland.
The thug - unanimously convicted by a jury - has never admitted his guilt. Earlier this year judges threw out his appeal against the verdict.
There was outrage last year when the Belfast Telegraph revealed that McCarney had received £320,000 in legal aid.
His lawyers' costs were paid from the public purse - even though he refused to give evidence in his own defence.
Now it has been revealed that his bill has climbed by another £150,000.
The money went towards lawyers for his ill-fated appeal.
It brings McCarney's total legal aid bill to £467,863 - and further costs have still to be added.
The figures were disclosed by the Justice Minister following an Assembly question from DUP peer Lord Morrow.
The Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA said the huge costs were unacceptable.
"Once again, the public are paying for legal proceedings which went nowhere," he said.
"Throughout trial and appeal McCarney never once took the stand in his own defence, yet his legal costs are touching on £500,000, with further fees still to be submitted.
"I cannot fathom how McCarney can proffer a defence when he refuses or is advised not to enter the witness box.
"He appears to be content to permit the public to fund this process whilst he does nothing."
McCarney was convicted of murder in December 2012.
The initial £317,863 legal aid bill for his trial included solicitor costs totalling £167,029, senior counsel fees of £121,085 and junior counsel fees of £29,748.
The appeal costs include £90,000 for the senior counsel and £60,000 on junior counsel.
McCarney's solicitors' costs at the appeal stage have still to be factored in, meaning the £467,863 bill will rise.
Despite the unanimous verdicts, McCarney had challenged the jury's finding that he was guilty of killing Millie.
He also contested charges that he subjected her to a sexual assault and grievous bodily harm.
But in May, senior judges refused his appeal.
They rejected criticisms about the handling of applications for "no case to answer" at his trial.
Allegations of failures in how the jury was directed were also dismissed.
Lord Morrow said the case highlighted the need for a review of the appeals system.
"In relation to appeals, these cases need to be rigorously scrutinised to ensure there are credible grounds," he added.
"I accept it is the right of those convicted to appeal, but this needs to be thoroughly balanced against the potential of a successful outcome, particularly in relation to the conviction.
"The Minister for Justice has rejected my previous suggestions to attempt to curb the legal aid spend, but I feel he would have severe difficulty justifying the inordinate costs in the McCarney case."
In December 2012, the jury took just three hours to unanimously convict McCarney of little Millie's murder.
He was also convicted of sexually assaulting the toddler and causing grievous bodily harm.
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.
McCarney had been in a relationship with Millie's mother, Rachael, for four months prior to the murder.
In court, she 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.
It is understood that McCarney's legal team have considered asking the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to examine the case.