Hazel Stewart’s legal aid bill costs over £118,000

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Double murderer Hazel Stewart’s defence costs have so far cost the taxpayer almost £120,000.

Even though she lived in a luxurious detached house set in its own grounds outside Coleraine, she claimed her entitlement to legal aid to pay for two failed attempts to prove her innocence.

Stewart, 50, is serving a minimum 18-year sentence for her part in the killing of her policeman husband Trevor Buchanan, 32, and her lover Colin Howell’s wife Lesley, 31, in May 1991.

She has hired a new legal team to launch a second appeal to challenge her convictions.

But it has emerged that defence costs for the preliminary process and her original trial which lasted 15 days at Coleraine Courthouse two years ago have already reached £118,143.80.

This does not include legal fees for Crown Counsel which were £100,309.

Details emerged after a Freedom of Information request and disclosed that Stewart’s legal representation at the Magistrates’ Court before she stood trial cost £15,433.74.

Her Crown Court defence fees were an additional £102,710.06, according to the Legal Services Commission.

Details of her costs for a failed Appeal Court challenge in January this year have yet to be revealed.

Stewart’s legal team is now preparing to return to the High Court, possibly later this year, to launch a fresh bid to quash her convictions.

Those eligible for legal aid must prove their disposable income is £234-a-week or less and disposable capital is £3,000 or under.

The value of the house in which someone lives is not taken into account.