Revealed: How killer nurse who poisoned 21 patients got £779,000 in legal aid (which is more than the compensation paid to all his victims combined)
- Victorino Chua murdered two patients and poisoned 19 more at an NHS hospital
- Compensation paid to victims and families was £18,527 less than his legal aid bill
- Chua, 51, was jailed for murdering Derek Weaver, 83, and Tracey Arden, 44
A nurse who murdered two patients and poisoned 19 more at an NHS hospital received £779,000 in legal aid to defend himself – nearly £20,000 more than the total compensation awarded to his victims.
The amount given to Filipino Victorino Chua, 51, who police believe used forged qualifications to gain work in the UK, was branded ‘absolutely disgraceful’ last night.
The total amount of compensation paid to Chua’s victims and their families was £760,475 – £18,527 less than his legal aid bill.
A number of Chua’s poisoned patients received less than £10,000 each. One, who was left brain damaged by the ‘narcissistic psychopath’, is believed to have received about £500,000 – still significantly less than Chua’s legal aid bill. Two of Chua’s other victims got around £95,000 and £50,000 each.
His state-funded defence costs come despite a Ministry of Justice pledge to crack down on legal aid.
Chua is two years into a minimum 35-year sentence for murder, which will cost the public about £1.75million.
Prison conditions in the UK are infinitely better than in Chua’s native Manila, where he obtained dubious nursing qualifications before flying to the UK and landing a job at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport. Police suspect someone else sat his professional nursing exam in his homeland.
he vetting failures that allowed him to go on a deadly poisoning spree were confirmed at the end of his 2015 trial when there were calls for a review of how foreign nurses are recruited in the UK.
Now in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Mail, the Ministry of Justice revealed that Chua had been awarded a total of £779,002 in legal aid.
Chua was also convicted of murdering 44-year-old Tracey Arden
This was made up of £379,991 in solicitor costs, £308,445 in barrister costs and £90,566 in ‘disbursements’ (various legal expenses). Last night the sister of one of Chua’s two murder victims hit out at the size of the bill.
Lynda Bleasdale, 72, whose 83-year-old brother Derek Weaver was poisoned after being admitted to Stepping Hill with breathlessness, said: ‘It’s totally unjust. The compensation my family received was barely enough to cover my brother’s funeral costs. For his lawyers to be paid so much more than the families is appalling – I find it absolutely disgraceful.
‘It shows there’s something wrong with the system. More money should have been spent on the victims instead.’
Nazir Afzal, the former chief prosecutor who laid charges against Chua, said: ‘Whilst this was a very complicated investigation, the prosecution provided all the evidence (to the defence) at the point of charging and were ready for trial within weeks. So it is surprising that £779,000 would be charged to the legal aid fund.’
Chua’s legal team was led by Peter Griffiths QC, who has previously been named as one of the country’s highest paid barristers.
He told Chua’s four-month trial that his client was innocent and being used as a scapegoat. But a jury disagreed. It heard how the father-of-two injected insulin into saline bags and ampoules while working on two wards at the hospital in June and July 2011.
These were then unwittingly used by other nurses on the ward, leading to a series of insulin overdoses to mainly elderly victims.
Chua was convicted of murdering 44-year-old Tracey Arden and Mr Weaver. He was acquitted of the murder of Arnold Lancaster, 71, but convicted of poisoning him and 18 other patients with insulin.
At Manchester Crown Court, the judge, Mr Justice Openshaw, said the random way Chua targeted his victims at the hospital was ‘striking, sinister and truly wicked’.
Police released a rambling 13-page letter written by Chua in which he spelt out ‘how an angel can turn into an evil person’. The Ministry of Justice said: ‘The funding of more expensive cases is managed by a team within the Legal Aid Agency to ensure that costs are carefully controlled.
‘Expected costs are negotiated in advance based upon the nature of the case and the alleged role of the defendant. Claims submitted for payment are always subject to further scrutiny and assessment.’
Kevin Saul, medical negligence solicitor at Irwin Mitchell which represented two victims of Chua, said: ‘Over the past decade there have been numerous cuts to legal aid preventing many vulnerable people accessing the funding necessary to help with their cases.
‘Although everyone has the right to a defence in court, there will be many people left angry at the scale of Mr Chua’s legal aid bill.’
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital, said: ‘It is our understanding that all claims have been settled, with 18 people receiving a total payment of £760,475.’