THE killer who slit the throat of little Emily Jones in front of her horrified family was awarded nearly £70,000 in taxpayer-funded legal aid.
Paranoid schizophrenic Eltiona Skana was awarded almost £70,000 in legal aid[/caption]
The killer pounced on Emily Jones, 7 and slashed her throat with a craft knife[/caption]
The paranoid schizophrenic was sentenced to life with a minimum of eight years after admitting manslaughter with diminished responsibility.
It was upped to ten years and eight months in January after the sentencing judge admitted the minimum term was “calculated in error”.
And a Freedom of Information request can now reveal Skana was awarded £66,564.48 in legal aid by the Government to fight the “open and shut case”.
The Ministry of Justice’s Legal Aid Agency said the cheques covered the cost of her criminal defence representation.
But the Centre for Crime Prevention think tank has questioned the vast sum of taxpayer’s money she was awarded in legal aid.
“The horrific crime committed by Eltiona Skana shocked the whole country,” research director David Spencer said.
“It was an open and shut case and 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 for her to receive such a vast sum of legal aid.
“It epitomises everything that is wrong with the legal aid system and why it is so badly in need of reform.”
Emily Jones was playing on a scooter in a park in Bolton when she was killed[/caption]
Anyone facing charges in the Crown Court could be eligible for Legal Aid – subject to a strict means test.
Skana was given a hybrid sentence – so she will only be sent to prison if her treatment allows it.
She will remain in hospital indefinitely if she is never deemed fit to be released.
Little Emily was playing on a scooter in Queen’s Park, Bolton, on March 22 last year when the horror unfolded.
She was shouting out to her mum, Sarah Barnes, who was jogging nearby when Skana pounced.
The killer leapt up from a bench and grabbed the innocent youngster – slashing her throat with a craft knife.
Dad Mark, who cradled his dying daughter in his arms, at first believed she had fallen from her scooter until a woman yelled: “She’s been stabbed.”
Emily was rushed to hospital but sadly couldn’t be saved and died 30 minutes later.
Mark bravely faced his daughter’s killer in court last month as she was sentenced over the attack.
Reading a powerful victim impact statement, he said: “How can you put into words how you feel about the senseless death of your only child? It is just too difficult to comprehend.
“Our future has also been taken away. How can you enjoy life when the biggest part of it isn’t there anymore.
“We will never see Emily grow and become the wonderful young lady we knew she would become, we will never see her hold her own child in her arms, as we held her.
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“How can an innocent child, playing in the park, be killed in such a violent and monstrous way?”
Criminals and 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.
Without legal representation criminals could argue their trial was unfair and convictions could be quashed.