Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial verdict: The five barristers who became household names in Northern Ireland


By Claire O'Boyle and Cate McCurry

The barristers leading five separate legal teams have played a prominent role in the nine-week trial of Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding and their friends Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison.

Among the top lawyers acting in the case was Toby Hedworth QC, the Crown Prosecution barrister. Mr Hedworth's experience has been far-reaching, and one of the most high-profile cases he has led was the successful prosecution of child killer Robert Black for the murder of Jennifer Cardy in 2011, 30 years after the nine-year-old was killed in Ballinderry.

Black had been convicted in 1994 for the murders of Susan Maxwell, Caroline Hogg and Sarah Harper. Meanwhile, Brendan Kelly QC led the defence of Paddy Jackson.

Mr Kelly has also worked on a number of high-profile cases. In 2013 he represented Mark Bridger in the case of the murder of five-year-old April Jones in North Wales. Bridger was convicted of the killing.

In 2015, the barrister acted for Hazel Stewart, who had been convicted of the double killing of her husband Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell, the wife of her ex-lover Colin Howell. Mr Kelly told the Court of Appeal the conviction against Stewart, who was given a minimum 18-year jail sentence for her part in the murders, should be quashed. However, Stewart lost her appeal.

Frank O'Donoghue QC, who acted for Stuart Olding, is one of Northern Ireland's most high-profile barristers, and has been involved in a number of major cases. He represented figures including loyalist leader Johnny Adair.

Arthur Harvey, who represented Blane McIlroy, is another leading name among Northern Ireland's barristers.

He has been involved in numerous high-profile local cases including the Bloody Sunday inquiry.

Mr Harvey represented relatives of the victims and was reported to have been paid over £1.3m for the long-running case. He often features in the media for his earnings from legal aid and is among the highest paid lawyers here, according to reports.

Gavan Duffy QC acted for Rory Harrison. Mr Duffy, who became a QC in 2011, has worked as a specialist in criminal defence cases for more than 20 years.

The barrister, who has acted as chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, has spoken out over the issue of legal aid in the past.

Belfast Telegraph


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