Huge cost of defending Hazel Stewart

Hazel Stewart.
Hazel Stewart.

The cost to the public purse of defending double-killer Hazel Stewart stands at more than £440,000, with the vast bulk spent after her conviction.

However the Department of Justice (DoJ) said it does not yet have the figures for the cost of a failed attempt to reopen her appeal.

Neither would it provide any legal aid costs she may have incurred over subsequent proceedings in civil court, saying the law (specifically, the Legal Aid Advice and Assistance Order NI 1981) does not permit disclosure of these costs in civil cases.

The amount paid to defend her partner in crime Colin Howell can also be revealed.

Including both his magistrates’ court and Crown Court appearances, his defence costs were £81,547.11,

The amounts were revealed thanks to a member of the public, who simply said that he had taken a close interest in the case.

He had written to Justice Minister David Ford – originally in January last year, and then again last month – asking for full details of the legal aid costs involved.

The breakdown of Stewart’s costs is as follows: £15,433.74 spent on her defence in the magistrates’ court and £99,083 in the Crown Court (the response from the DoJ stated that these amounts include VAT).

It goes on to add that the cost of her Court of Appeal case was £326,869.37.

All of these taken together add up to £441,386.11.