Swindon AdvertiserPublic paying price for killer’s legal bill (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Public paying price for Christopher Halliwell's legal bill

Swindon Advertiser: Christopher Halliwell Christopher Halliwell

TAXPAYERS will foot a mounting legal aid bill for costs run up by convicted killer Chris Halliwell.

Halliwell, who murdered 22-year-old Sian O’Callaghan after picking her up in his taxi, racked up charges of £3,300 in the space of just a few days after his arrest.

The Legal Services Commission has not yet released details of how much his trial cost, but it is likely to run into tens of thousands of pounds based on fees in other high-profile murder cases.

Halliwell was jailed for life in October after pleading to murdering the clubber as she returned from a night out.

Following his arrest on March 24, a solicitor charged £304 to provide advice and assistance after police gained a warrant of further detention to question the divorced father-of-three. Another bill of £2,453 was charged for a solicitor to make visits to the station.

Halliwell, 48, was charged with Sian’s murder on March 26.

Legal fees of £119 were incurred by a solicitor who visited the station afterwards and attended an identification procedure. Further costs of £490 were incurred for Halliwell to have legal representative in the following days.

The bill was released by the Legal Services Commission following a Freedom of Information Act request by the Adver.

The former taxi driver was jailed for life at Bristol Crown Court for Sian’s murder, and also confessed to killing Becky Godden-Edwards – although the admission was ruled inadmissible.

His legal bill for the court hearing had not been submitted to the commission at the time the Adver made the request in November.

A spokesman said: “The LSC has a legal obligation to fund cases in the crown court. Fee changes introduced as part of the Government’s legal aid reform programme are controlling costs significantly.”

The commission weighed up data protection issues against the public interest in handling the FOI request.

It found: “As a public body the LSC recognises its responsibilities not only to the clients whose cases we fund but also to the public.

“It is our understanding that this case has a wider public interest in the police investigation and the court’s decision to drop the charges against Halliwell in connection with the murder of Miss Godden.

“We also consider there are no ongoing trials which could be prejudiced by this disclosure.”

Becky’s mother Karen Edwards hit out at the courts for allowing Halliwell to play the system.

She said: “The cost will run into thousands of pounds and not only did it cost the taxpayer to get him to court but now we are all paying for him to stay in prison.

“He had a hot-shot barrister who nearly got him off Sian’s murder on a technicality with the media argument and he got away with Becky.

“Once he said he was guilty it should have been straight forward but the justice system is just so slow, it’s unbelievable.

“If the Government want to cut costs they should start there.”

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