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Man alleged to have made millions through gaming machines has case delayed over legal aid

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A man who is alleged to have made millions of pounds through gaming machines has had a case against him adjourned as he has not been granted legal aid.

The 42-year-old’s barrister told Craigavon Crown Court on Thursday that the decision taken to deny the defendant legal aid had been appealed but that there had been no further news on the matter.

Ruairi Owens, of Fortwilliam Demesne, Belfast appeared charged with 79 counts of charging a player of a gaming machine excess, five counts of organising prohibited gambling and eight counts of possessing criminal property.

At a previous court sitting it was heard that the defendant could not afford to pay for representation as his assets had been restrained.

On Thursday, Owen’s defence barrister stated: “There has been nothing further from the legal aid services, we are awaiting the decision on our appeal against their refusal of special circumstances funding.

“We indicated yesterday (Wednesday) that the matter was up for review today and explained that your honour would have wanted this to move on but we have had no response”.

He added: “This is required so that the defendant can decide what other steps he can take, this is an infringement on his article six rights.

“He has the right to a fair trial within a reasonable period of time and his first appearance in the Crown Court was in July of last year”.

Court heard that the appeal had been lodged in December of last year.

His Honour Judge Patrick Lynch ordered that the defence barrister consulted with the court to draft a letter to be sent to the legal aid services so that a decision was obtained.

The case will return for an update on March 21.

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