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Solicitor Damien McDaid acquitted of legal aid fraud charges

By George Jackson

A solicitor has been found not guilty of eight charges of submitting fraudulent application forms for legal aid payments.

On the 12th day of the trial at the Crown Court in Londonderry, sitting in Coleraine, the 11-strong jury, following almost three hours of deliberations, returned eight not guilty verdicts, each of them by majorities of 10 to one.

The defendant - Damien McDaid (below) from Templegrove in the Buncrana Road area of Derry - had denied submitting fraudulent legal aid payment application forms to the Legal Services Agency, for which he had been paid between £6,000 and £10,000.

The 47-year-old was acquitted of committing the eight offences on various dates between July 2010 and January 2012 when he worked as a sole practitioner specialising in family law matters.

After the not-guilty verdicts were announced by the jury foreman, trial judge Madam Justice Denise McBride thanked the jurors for what she said was the crucial role they had played in the administration of justice.

She then turned to the defendant in the dock and said: "You have been found not guilty by the jury and therefore you are free to leave".

The defendant had said the legal aid forms at the centre of the case contained mistaken rather than intentionally misleading information.

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