Warning over £1m cost of Dungannon ‘drugs feud’ case

Springdale housing estate Dungannon
Springdale housing estate Dungannon

The case of 11 Polish men alleged to have travelled to Dungannon as part of a “feud”, could cost the taxpayer over £1million, it has been warned.

According to figures obtained by DUP Assembly Member, Maurice Morrow, estimated costs for legal aid alone stand at £664,942.

At the time the men were arrested in October 2013, a court hearing was told they had travelled from Dublin to the Springdale Estate in Dungannon as part of “an escalating drugs feud”.

Maurice Morrow told the TIMES that on the day of the trial, the defendants, who had originally been accused of arson, were re-arraigned on a lesser charge of assault, to which they pleaded guilty.

He continued: “The disposal was a Conditional Discharge and a restraining order barring all defendants from threatening violence against the two victims, and not to enter Dungannon town.”

Lord Morrow called for an enquiry into the granting of legal aid in the case, adding: “Whilst the defence of 11 persons connected to the same incident is going to be costly, there was absolutely no need to extend Legal Aid to the level of senior counsel.

“The figures expended by the public on the entire case are extremely high and I am calling on the Minister to investigate this thoroughly, with a view to ascertaining if procedures were correctly adhered to.”

The Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA said an examination of the case might allow the Minister to “get a grip on exactly why Legal Aid is out of control”.