A MAN who could stand trial for a murder of which he was acquitted more than 20 years ago cannot afford to pay for his defence, a court has heard.
Advocate Donald Findlay QC told appeal judges yesterday that his client Francis Auld does not qualify for legal aid because he works as a bar manager.
He told judges that the Scottish Legal Aid Board’s rules forbid them from paying the costs of the former mechanic’s legal bills.
But Mr Auld – who was cleared of killing Amanda Duffy, 19, in November 1992 – does not make enough money to meet his legal team’s costs.
According to Mr Findlay, this situation is unfair and could result in Mr Auld’s human rights being breached.
Scottish prosecutors are currently trying to use “double jeopardy” legislation in order to put Mr Auld, who lives in Brighton, on trial for murder for the second time.
Ms Duffy’s remains were found on waste ground in Hamilton, South Lanarkshire, on 30 May 1992. She had been mutilated and suffered horrific injuries.
,Mr Findlay said: “This isn’t about the money. This is about the principle.
“If a citizen is confronted by the full forces of the state, there should be equality of arms. There should be a fair fight – there is not one currently.
“If Mr Auld is unable to pay for assistance then I will assist him. He will be represented. But I shall have to combine this with my other commitments which would be most unsatisfactory.”
Mr Findlay’s concerns were made during a preliminary hearing into the case at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh.
Judges Lady Paton, Lord Drummond Young and Lord Malcolm heard submissions from Mr Findlay and prosecutors. The Crown have made an application under the Double Jeopardy (Scotland) Act 2011. They want judges to set aside the acquittal of Auld from an earlier trial and prosecute him again for the murder.
The act sets out conditions where an accused can be retried for a crime for which they were previously acquitted.
Double jeopardy cases are handled by the cold case review unit, which is part of the serious and organised crime division of the Crown Office.
Proceedings yesterday concerned progress that lawyers were making in preparing for eventual legal arguments about whether Mr Auld should be put back on trial.
Mr Findlay told the court there were around 25,000 pages of evidence that he would have to study over the next few weeks. He also said that his solicitors were urging the Scottish Legal Aid Board to set aside their policies and fund Mr Auld’s defence.
Mr Findlay added: “He is a bar manager. He does not make a lot of money. He cannot afford to pay. It would be monstrous if he was expected to do so.”
Judge Lady Paton told Mr Findlay that she and her fellow judges hoped the Scottish Legal Aid Board and Mr Auld’s lawyers could resolve the issue.
Referring to the article of European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees that people have fair trials, Lady Paton added: “It strongly indicates a breach of article six rights.”