Friday 19 January 2018

€35,000 legal aid but no compensation for Corcoran family

The smashed front window of the Corcorans' family home
The smashed front window of the Corcorans' family home
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Victims' rights campaigners have criticised the €35,000 forked out by the taxpayer to defend seven men who staged a violent burglary of a family home.

Despite the trauma involved in the horrific raid on the Corcoran household in Burnchurch, Co Tipperary, the family will not receive "a penny" of compensation.

Each of the guilty men had a senior counsel, a junior counsel and a solicitor, with the taxpayer footing the bill through the free legal aid system.

Legal sources estimated the bill would be at least €33,607.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Sally Hanlon, director of services at Support After Crime, said the figure was "a bitter pill to swallow" for victims.

She has now called for a "cap" to be imposed on the provision of free legal aid. Anything above this figure should be deducted "at source" from social welfare payments, she said.

"€35,000 represents a third of our total funding this year," said Ms Hanlon. "We understand that people are innocent until proven guilty, but where does all this stop? Offenders should not only repay victims for items that were stolen and never recovered, but also contribute to their own legal costs.

"It is extremely annoying and the Government now needs to seriously re-examine the whole area of free legal aid."

The Corcoran family could have received €500,000 in compensation if an old law had not been abolished.

"Compensation for personal injuries as part of the Criminal Injuries Tribunal was abolished about 15 years ago," a legal source explained.

"Prior to that, the victims of crime would come before a tribunal of one person, with a medical report showing their injuries. The State would then pay compensation to the victim to some extent.

"Someone in the Corcorans' situation back then could be looking at approximately €500,000 in compensation."

The seven Dublin men who admitted carrying out an aggravated burglary on the young family two years ago have received a range of sentences totalling 105 years.

The gang broke into the home of Mark and Emma Corcoran at Burnchurch, Co Tipperary, in November 2013.

Threats were made that the gang would kill their children and they were left in fear of their family's lives.

Irish Independent

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