Bristol

Becky Watts killers received £400,000 in legal aid

Nathan Matthews and Shauna Hoare Image copyright PA
Image caption Becky Watts's body was dismembered at the home of Nathan Matthews and Shauna Hoare

The killers of Bristol teenager Becky Watts were granted more than £400,000 in legal aid, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

Becky, 16, was murdered by her stepbrother during a sexually-motivated kidnapping on 19 February last year.

Nathan Matthews was jailed for life and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare was given 17 years for manslaughter.

The Ministry of Justice said the figure reflected all of Matthews' costs but further bills were due for Hoare.

Becky was reported missing on 20 February 2015 and her remains were found in suitcases in a shed nearly two weeks later.

Her aunt, Sarah Broom, said the family was disgusted that Matthews and Hoare are seeking to appeal against their convictions and sentences, which would cost the taxpayer even more money.

Matthews was granted £324,549 in legal aid, which included £2,261 before the trial, £180,808 for a solicitor during the trial and £141,479 for an advocate.

Hoare received £1,044 before the trial, £6,987 for a solicitor during the trial and £69,668 for an advocate.

'Legal aid critical'

Anyone facing a crown court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a means test.

A spokeswoman for the Law Society said: "The purpose of the criminal court system is to ensure justice for all by convicting the guilty and protecting the innocent.

"Criminal legal aid is critical for ensuring that anyone accused of wrongdoing has a fair trial.

"Of those who plead not guilty in the crown court, well over half are acquitted, which is why people accused of wrongdoing must be given access to good quality legal help, whatever their means."

Image caption Becky was murdered by her stepbrother Nathan Matthews and his girlfriend Shauna Hoare

The UK spent £1.7bn on legal aid in 2014-15 and a major reform of the system was scrapped in January.

But a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said expenditure had fallen by more than 20% since 2010.

"Anyone facing a crown court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a strict means test, but may be required to pay significant contributions - up to the entire cost of their defence.

"The government has cut the fees paid to lawyers in criminal legal aid cases, such as these, to ensure legal aid represents better value for the taxpayer."

The trial of Matthews and Hoare, which included four other defendants, cost the Crown Prosecution Service £105,207.49.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites