NI: Trial date set in bid to deprive NI woman of murder victim’s pension

NI: Trial date set in bid to deprive NI woman of murder victim's pension

A trial date has been set in a case where the National Crime Agency (NCA) is bidding to deprive a woman of pension benefits inherited from her first husband after she was convicted of his murder.

Hazel Stewart was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison at Coleraine Crown Court in 2011 after her ex-lover confessed to the 1991 killing and implicated her.

Ms Stewart’s late first husband, Trevor Buchanan, joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) in 1981 and Ms Stewart has now inherited his police pension.

Efforts to recover the pension benefits under proceeds of crime legislation have failed due to disagreement over whether Ms Stewart’s current husband’s income should be considered when assessing her eligibility for legal aid.

However, Ms Stewart’s barrister Eugene McKenna and lawyers for the NCA asked the court for a trial date to be set.

The Hon Mr Justice Maguire, sitting in the High Court in Belfast, said there was a “very strong public interest in this matter being dealt with, with expedition”.

The trial will take place from 4-5 May 2016.

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