Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Fury after killer of girl, 7, given £66,000 in legal aid

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Eltiona Skana was locked up for at least 10 years and eight months after admitting manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. Replies to a Freedom of Information request show that during court appearances her legal aid costs were £66,564. The Centre for Crime Prevention think tank has criticised the sum for defending the 31-year-old.

David Spencer, its research director, claimed: “There was never any question of Skana’s guilt. Questions therefore have to be asked about whether it is a sensible use of taxpayers’ money.

“It epitomises everything that is wrong with the legal aid system and why it is so badly in need of reform.”

Prosecution lawyers at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court dropped the original charge of murder and Skana pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

The court heard that Emily was in Queen’s Park, Bolton, on Mother’s Day last year with dad Mark and mum Sarah.

Skana jumped up from a bench and cut Emily’s throat with a craft knife that she had just bought. She tried to flee as Mark ran to help his daughter but was held by a passer-by.

Senior investigating officer Duncan Thorpe, of Greater Manchester Police, said after the case: “Emily was taken from her family and friends in the worst possible way.

“This was an absolutely devastating incident that has left Emily’s parents and family completely heartbroken. It sent shockwaves across the country as everyone mourned the loss of this innocent little girl.

“No sentence can ever undo what happened on that awful day in March.

“But Emily’s spirit will live on in her family and I know she will never be forgotten.”

The Legal Aid Agency, an executive arm of the Ministry of Justice, said all funding is subject to a means test.

Defendants do not receive any part of their legal aid money. Payments are sent directly to the solicitors and barristers representing them.

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