Hazel Stewart denied funding in legal battle over police pension benefits
Double killer Hazel Stewart has been denied funding for a legal battle over police pension benefits inherited from her murdered first husband.
The National Crime Agency is seeking an order that she must repay money gained following the death of Trevor Buchanan.
But a trial, due to get underway at the High Court in Belfast on Wednesday, has been adjourned due to her failure to secure legal aid.
Stewart's lawyers will attempt to have the decision judicially reviewed.
The 53-year-old is serving a minimum 18-year jail sentence for murdering Constable Buchanan, 32, and 31-year-old Lesley Howell, the wife of her ex-lover Colin Howell.
Efforts to recover money from the former Sunday school teacher under proceeds of crime legislation have been hit by a series of delays.
Her barrister went into court on Tuesday to have the case put on hold again because legal aid has now been refused.
Stewart's second husband, retired police superintendent David Stewart, is a joint respondent in the proceedings, despite facing no allegations of any wrongdoing.
He is defending the action as a personal litigant without legal representation.
Legal aid authorities are understood to have concluded that he should pay his wife's bills in the case.
It was stressed in court that the NCA accept Mr Stewart is "entirely blameless".
The case centres on finances which have since been tied up in the couple's family home.
The judge stressed the need for proceedings to be dealt with as soon as possible.
However, he acknowledged the legal and factual complexities involved.
He added: "It may be there simply will be no legal aid available and eventually this case will come on without any legal representation for either of the Stewarts.
"If that is to happen, it has to happen."
In October last year, Stewart lost her appeal against being convicted of murdering her policeman husband.
She has since applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in a further challenge to the guilty verdict.