Gardai unable to seek Traynor's extradition
Published 03/09/2010 | 05:00
GARDAI do not have the evidence to seek the extradition of convicted fraudster John Traynor on a criminal charge linked to the ongoing investigation into the murder of journalist Veronica Guerin.
Officers have been seeking to question the 62-year-old criminal about his suspected involvement in drug trafficking and fire-arms offences since the journalist was shot dead in June 1996.
But his extradition cannot be sought unless there is sufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution against him.
Traynor was using a driving licence in the name of a well- known Dublin drug trafficker who was sent to jail in the late 1990s, when he was stopped and arrested by Dutch police last week in the Amstelveen area of The Netherlands.
The arrest followed a joint operation between the Dutch officers and members of the British Serious Organised Crime Agency.
Traynor, who is from Dublin, had been on the run since November 1992 when he failed to return to the Highpoint prison in Suffolk, England, after he had been allowed home on a short visit to his family.
But although he was officially listed as missing, his whereabouts and movements were known to the two police forces and the gardai as he moved between several haunts in The Netherlands and Spain since then.
Despite the false driving licence, Traynor held a passport in his own name and had both documents in his possession when he was arrested.
The driving licence was in the name of a former close associate of Peter Mitchell, who also went missing with Traynor and moved to mainland Europe when the Garda investigation into the Guerin murder and the activities of the John Gilligan gang was launched.
Traynor was brought before a Dutch magistrate two days after his arrest, and details of the extradition warrant were read out to him. He is wanted back in the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence.
He had absconded from Highpoint jail after serving one year out of a seven-year sentence handed down for his involvement in the theft of bonds. He was caught in possession of a quantity of the bonds.
After he absconded from jail, Traynor remained here and was regarded as a key member of the Gilligan gang.
It was never explained why his extradition was not sought by the British even though his whereabouts were well known.
The official reason given by British police was that Traynor was low down on their extradition priority list.
But it was suspected that Traynor was regarded as useful to police, who kept him under regular surveillance as he associated with other criminals here and overseas.
After he had fled to the Netherlands, he was arrested with another member of the Gilligan gang, Brian Meehan, in Amsterdam in 1997.
Meehan was extradited back here and was charged and convicted of the murder of Veronica Guerin. He is now serving a life sentence behind bars.
But Traynor was released without charge and he remained untouched for 18 years until his arrest 11 days ago.