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Derry solicitor Damien McDaid denies legal aid fraud


Solicitor Damien McDaid at court

Solicitor Damien McDaid at court

Solicitor Damien McDaid at court

A Londonderry solicitor has denied making a series of fraudulent claims relating to legal aid forms.

Damien McDaid, from Templemore in Derry, appeared at Belfast Crown Court on Friday where he denied a total of 61 offences.

The 42-year old is accused of sending falsified documents to the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission - which is now known as the Legal Services Agency NI - over an 18 month period.

When McDaid was charged with the first count of false accounting - which accused him of making entries "which were or may have been misleading, false or deceptive ... in that they purported to show hours actually spent engaged in the representation of the said Legal Aid Certificate ... when they did not" - he replied "not guilty" to the charge.

He was also charged with a further 60 offences of a similar nature, namely false accounting, over a period spanning from July 2010 to January 2012.

McDaid denied all the offences which accuse him of claiming payment for hours he didn't work.

A defence barrister for McDaid said he is waiting to instruct a forensic accountant after they have obtained legal aid authority.

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This, the barrister said, would involve "having a sitdown" with McDaid, as well as undertaking a detailed analysis of the relevant book-keeping system.

McDaid's barrister also revealed that his client's defence is based on "accounting negligencies".

Mr Justice Treacy raised the issue of "extraordinary delay" in the case given the date of the alleged offences, and was informed by a Crown barrister that a decision to prosecute took "some time to formulate".

During Friday's hearing, it emerged that the trial will most likely be held in Derry.

Mr Justice Treacy listed the case be reviewed again in January 2017, when he said he wanted to be in a position to fix a date for the trial.

McDaid was then released on continuing bail and was told that whilst he did not have to come to court for the review hearing in January, he was nonetheless "free to attend."

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