Derry solicitor denies fraud offences

Court hammer
Court hammer

A Derry solicitor has denied making a series of fraudulent claims relating to Legal Aid forms.

Damien McDaid, from Templemore, appeared at Belfast Crown Court where he denied a total of 61 offences.

The 42-year old is accused of sending falsified documents to the Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission - which is now known as the Legal Services Agency NI - over an 18-month period.

McDaid is charged with 61 offences of false accounting between July 2010 to January 2012.

He denied all the offences which accuse him of claiming payment for hours he didn’t work.

A defence barrister for McDaid said he is waiting to instruct a forensic accountant after they have obtained Legal Aid authority.

This, the barrister said, would involve “having a sitdown” with McDaid, as well as undertaking a detailed analysis of the relevant book-keeping system.

McDaid’s barrister also revealed that his client’s defence is based on “accounting negligencies.”

Mr Justice Treacy raised the issue of “extraordinary delay” in the case given the date of the alleged offences, and was informed by a Crown barrister that a decision to prosecute took “some time to formulate.”

During today’s hearing, it emerged that the trial will most likely be held in Derry.

Mr Justice Treacy listed the case for review in January 2017, when he said he wanted to be in a position to fix a date for the trial.

McDaid was then released on continuing bail and was told that whilst he did not have to come to court for the review hearing in January, he was nonetheless “free to attend.”