Northern Ireland

Legal aid row: defendant makes his own bail application

A man facing robbery charges made his own bail application at Belfast Crown Court after telling a judge he could not find a solicitor to represent him.

Many law firms here are refusing to accept criminal legal aid cases at new reduced levels of fees.

A judge told William Patterson, whose address was given as Hydebank Young Offenders Centre, that the Ministry of Justice had a list of available firms.

But Mr Patterson said he'd tried a number but none would represent him.

Judge Aiden Devlin granted the 20-year-old bail on condition that he live in an approved hostel, observed a curfew, was electronically tagged and did not drink alcohol.