independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Courts refuse to extradite man in child death crash

Accountant did not flee Hungary, judge in appeal hearing rules

THE Supreme Court has refused to extradite an Irish accountant who killed two children in Hungary.

Ciaran Tobin, a senior manager with Irish Life Plc, is wanted in the eastern European country for causing the deaths of a five-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister six years ago.

Last January, following his arrest on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) by the Hungarian authorities, the High Court refused to extradite Mr Tobin who is from Cairn Manor, Ratoath, in Co Meath.

Justice Micheal Peart ruled that Mr Tobin did not "flee" Hungary within the meaning normally attributed to the word under the EAW laws.

Judge Peart said that he accepted Tobin's argument that he and his family had left Hungary, on November 30, 2000, following the completion of his work in that country, and that he had never fled the east European state at any time before the commencement of any sentence imposed on him.

That ruling, which freed the married father of two, was then appealed to the Supreme Court.

But last week the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal, meaning Mr Tobin will never face prison as a result of his conviction.

The decision not to extradite the Meath man has infuriated Budapest locals and elements of the Hungarian press which has campaigned for his return to face a jail sentence.

In April 2000, Mr Tobin's car mounted a footpath in a built-up area of Budapest.

After overtaking at a speed of up to 80km per hour, his car mounted a pavement and struck five-year old Martin Zoltai and his two-year old sister Petra who was sitting in a pram.

The two children were killed instantly.

Following the accident, Mr Tobin was charged with negligent driving causing the children's deaths, was granted bail by a Hungarian court and told to surrender his passport.

Mr Tobin later applied for his passport back as he wanted to return to Ireland with his family for a wedding.

Earlier this year the High Court heard that Tobin went back to Hungary but did not surrender his passport to the authorities on his return.

Seven months after the accident, Mr Tobin and his wife left Hungary and returned to Ireland permanently as his three-year contract with his employer had come to its natural end.

He was later convicted in his absence by a Hungarian court in 2002 of negligent driving causing the deaths of the two children.

A three-year sentence was imposed, which was later adjusted on appeal to 18 months.

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