Ricketts’ lawyer says government owes legal aid bills

| 20/12/2009

(CNS): The attorney representing one of the men accused of murdering Estella Scott-Roberts in October of 2008 told the court on Friday that his firm’s legal aid bills have not been paid and are well over the due date. Lee Freeman from Priestleys told Justice Alex Henderson that he had taken over the case in July and so far had not received any payment for his work representing Larry Ricketts. Freeman added that his firm was concerned about two bills, one submitted back in September, which represented the larger of the two, and one in November, and although they had both been cleared there was still no payment.

He said it was of particular concern as the firm now also had to find the money to pay for the work permit for Ricketts’ QC, who would be arriving in January to begin preparing for the January trial, as well as the leading counsel’s travel and accommodation costs, despite not having received any payment. Justice Charles Quin acknowledged Freeman’s concerns and said he would look into the matter for him.

The issued was raised during a brief mention on Friday, 18 December, in Grand Court prior to the trial, which is currently scheduled to start on 26 January. The mention was to confirm that both the accused men now have QCs as lead counsel and are fully represented as well as to ensure that disclosure details had all been addressed between the prosecution and the defence.

Kirsty–Ann Gunn, speaking for the crown, told the judge that the trial was scheduled for three weeks but that four would be a more likely scenario. It was also confirmed that the two co-defendants have yet to elect a judge alone or jury trial for the charges laid against them of murder, robbery, abduction, and in the case of Kirkland Henry, the rape of Estella Scott Roberts in October 2008.  

The two men were remanded back in custody until14 January when they will be asked by the court to declare whether they will choose trial by jury or a judge. The two men pleaded not guilty to the charges in January of last year. They have been in custody at HMP Northward since their arrest in October 2008, just over two weeks after the body of Scott-Roberts, a local activist against domestic abuse and a leading advocate of women’s rights, was discovered in her own burned out car in the Barkers area of West Bay on 11 October.

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