Sunday, 29 Nov 2020

Killers behind murder in Snapchat boast helped run up £500,000 legal aid bill

Three men who carried out a murder that one of them boasted about on Snapchat helped run up a legal aid bill of more than £500,000.

The killers were granted state aid for their defence as they pleaded not guilty to killing Emmanuel Lukenga after he was hunted down in the street.

Bradley Richardson, Enroy Ruddock and Matthew Brankin were sentenced to life in prison for killing the 21-year-old in Coventry last summer. 

A fourth defendant, Kyle Kinchen, was jailed for 27 months over a charge of arson when the men were sentenced in January 2020.

During the trial it emerged that Ruddock, who along with all of the defendants had pleaded not guilty, had boasted about the murder on a Snapchat video, hiding his face with an emoji.

Newly released records show that Kinchen’s defence alone cost £164,800 in legal bills, which includes his solicitor claiming £85,397 during the trial at Warwick Crown Court.

His barrister also claimed £78,746, according to the figures released by the Legal Aid Agency in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The next highest claim was by Brankin’s legal team, with his solicitor claiming £82,066 for the trial and his barrister £75,136.

Ruddock’s lawyers claimed £113,701 in state aid, which is aimed at ensuring defendants receive a fair trial. 

The total bill cost taxpayers £524,431 for representation at police stations and at court between 2019 and 2020, the data shows.

The figures include VAT and ‘disbursements’ – expenses paid by the Legal Aid Agency to providers, who then pay other parties involved in a case.

Emmanuel, known as Manny, bled to death in a back garden after being stabbed by Ruddock, with the blade severing a vital artery. 

The father-of-one died at the scene in Franklin Grove, Tile Hill, on June 12.

A jury found Ruddock, 19, of Melbourne Road, Earlsdon, Richardson, 23, of Prior Deram Walk, Canley, and Brankin, 19, of Thimbler Road, Canley, all guilty of murder following the trial.  

Ruddock was jailed for life with a minimum of 21 years behind bars, while Richardson and Brankin were sentenced to minimum terms of 22 and 19 years respectively under the joint enterprise law.

Kinchen, 19, of John Rous Avenue, Canley, was found not guilty of murder but was jailed for 27 months having pleaded guilty to the arson charge at an earlier hearing. This was in connection with a car connected to Emmanuel and his friends being set alight earlier on the day of the murder.

Ruddock, Brankin and Richardson had also admitted this charge and were sentenced to 27 months for this offence to run concurrently with their murder sentences.

After the sentencing, West Midlands Police released the Snapchat video showing Ruddock with his face covered by an emoji. 

He says: ‘Should have seen the way that I kweffed him, man.’

In its response to the request, the Legal Aid Agency said: ‘Anyone facing a Crown Court trial is eligible for legal aid, subject to a strict means test.

‘Depending on their means, applicants for criminal legal aid can be required to pay contributions up to the entire cost of the defence. 

‘Without proper legal representation a defendant might argue that their trial was unfair and any conviction they received could be quashed. 

‘Defendants do not receive a penny of legal aid, payments are means-tested and sent directly to solicitors and barristers who represent them to ensure a fair trial.’

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