Killer gets legal aid to sue 'confidante'

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A man who abducted and murdered a three-year-old girl has been granted legal aid to sue the writer who helped put him in prison.

Shaun Armstrong, 39, was jailed for life in 1995 for killing Rosie Palmer in Hartlepool, Teesside. Her body was discovered battered and sexually abused in a bin liner in his flat.

Now the killer has been granted legal aid to sue Bernard O'Mahoney, an author who was crucial in bringing him to justice. Letters that Armstrong wrote to Mr O'Mahoney, in which he admitted killing the girl, were passed to the police. The killer now plans to sue the writer for up to £15,000 for breaching his privacy by handing on his letters.

A spokeswoman for the Legal Services Commission confirmed that Armstrong had been granted legal aid. Armstrong had intended denying murder when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court to stand trial in 1995 but changed his plea after Mr O'Mahoney, pretending to be a woman, wrote to him while he was in prison on remand.

After an 11-month correspondence, he eventually admitted in a letter: "Yes, I'm responsible for the crime, but please don't tell anybody."

The killer's solicitor, Elkan Abrahamson, said yesterday that his client's had been obtained under false pretences and his privacy was breached. He said: "The claim is not purely about the damages, more about the fact he wants the letters back and he doesn't want a book written about him."