Wednesday 28 June 2017

Traynor facing extradition and jail

Isabel Conway and Tom Brady

Convicted criminal John Traynor is expected to be back behind bars within days after 18 years on the run.

The former member of John Gilligan's gang who left Ireland after journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered, is to be extradited to serve out the remainder of a seven-year sentence for his part in a multimillion euro fraud scam, an Amsterdam court ruled yesterday.

The court upheld a warrant under the European extradition treaty requesting that the 62-year-old nicknamed 'The Coach' be sent back to England where he could serve up to five years in jail.

The fugitive, who was illegally resident in Holland and had been moving in and out of the country for the past 14 years, was captured in a joint Dutch-British police operation against organised crime involving international criminals based in the Dutch capital.

Gardai have been anxious to question Traynor about his suspected involvement in drug trafficking and firearms offences since Ms Guerin was shot dead in June 1996.

But his extradition here cannot be sought unless there is sufficient evidence available to bring a criminal prosecution against him in the courts.

The Dubliner had been jailed for seven years in England in 1991 for his role in a scam involving stolen bearer bonds worth £4m Irish punts. He served the first portion of his sentence in Wandsworth prison but was then transferred to a less secure jail, Highpoint, in Suffolk.

Inmate

Regarded as a low-risk inmate, he was granted home leave to visit his family in Dublin but never returned. From there on he lived openly in Dublin where no attempt appears to have been made by British authorities to seek his extradition.

Traynor had been a contact of Veronica Guerin for about 18 months before she was killed, coming to the public's attention in 1996 when he applied to the High Court for an injunction preventing the murdered journalist from alleging he was a drug dealer.

In 1997 he was arrested in the Netherlands during a police operation connected with Guerin's murder as gardai and Dutch police mounted a surveillance operation tracking down another member of the Gilligan gang, Brian Meehan.

After questioning, John Traynor was released without charge by Dutch police as his extradition to Ireland was not being sought.

In its ruling on the British extradition warrant yesterday, the court in Amsterdam rejected defence arguments on several technical points, including the length of time that had transpired between the commission of the crime for which Traynor was sentenced and his arrest.

Traynor has serious heart problems, the court had heard during previous sittings. He did not attend any of the hearings for yesterday's outcome.

A court source said his lawyer had been informed of the verdict and arrangements would now be put in place for his extradition.

Irish Independent

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