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Thursday 28 August 2014

UK authorities seek surrender of convicted murderer who came to Ireland following conditional release from prison

Published 04/03/2014 | 18:32

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British authorities are seeking the surrender of a convicted murderer who came to Ireland two years ago following his conditional release from UK jail, the High Court heard yesterday.

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Michael Anthony Balmer (62) with a last address in Cornwall, England was arrested by gardaí in Ballydehob, Co Cork in 2012 following his release from prison one year earlier.

Counsel for the Minister for Justice, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, told the High Court yesterday that UK authorities were seeking the surrender of Mr Balmer for one offence of murder contrary to common law.

Mr Balmer was setenced to life imprisonment in 1984, the court heard, for attacking and killing a woman in her home on the evening of July 28 1983 in Devon, England.

On February 18 2011, the UK Justice Ministry's Secretary of State authorised the release of Mr Balmer “on license,” subject to public protection, counsel said.

According to submissions from UK authorities, “all lifers are released on licence with conditions imposed for the rest of their life,” Mr McGuinness said. Counsel said a license can be revoked at any time and once it is, the offender is deemed to be “at large”.

Mr Balmer was released fromprison on license in March 2011 but this was revoked in March 2012.

Counsel for Mr Balmer, Patrick McGrath SC, said Mr Balmer had served the punitive element of his sentence and his surrender on grounds of public protection meant his client would be subject to preventative detention.

Preventative detention, Mr McGrath said, was something the Irish courts prohibited absolutely.

The court heard that there were no provisions in the Constitution which required offenders to be held solely for the public's protection and convicted criminals were sent to prison entirely as a punishment.

In an affidavit read out to court, Mr Balmer said he came to Ireland following his release from prison on license in March 2012.

Mr Balmer believed, the court heard, that he had served the punative portion of his sentence and the objective of detaining him was to assess whether he was a continuing risk to the public.

The hearing continues before Mr Justice John Edwards on March 10 2014.

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