Saturday 19 October 2019

Court rules John Downey can be extradited to Northern Ireland

Man (66) to be extradited in relation to 1972 Enniskillen murder

John Downey arrives for an extradition hearing at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Monday January 28, 2019. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
John Downey arrives for an extradition hearing at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin on Monday January 28, 2019. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Olga Cronin

Hyde Park bomb suspect John Downey can be extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland to face charges over the murder of two soldiers in 1972, a judge has ruled.

Downey, 67, whose trial for the IRA's London bombing collapsed in controversy five years ago, is wanted by prosecutors in Northern Ireland over the 1972 murder of two Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers in Enniskillen.

Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly ruled on the extradition in the Dublin High Court on Friday.

The judge told the court that Downey had objected to the surrender on a number of grounds over his belief that "it would be oppressive to surrender him".

But Ms Donnelly rejected all of his objections.

After granting the order for the surrender, Ms Justice Donnelly agreed to hear whether Downey's legal team will lodge an appeal next Wednesday and has permitted him to remain on continuing bail.

Downey, from Co Donegal, who was detained in the Republic of Ireland last October under a European arrest warrant, has always denied any involvement in the Hyde Park attack.

Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service initiated extradition proceedings last year after determining it had sufficient evidence to charge him with the murders of Lance Corporal Alfred Johnston, 32, and Private James Eames, 33.

The two soldiers died when an IRA bomb exploded in a car they were checking on Irvinestown Road, Cherrymount, on August 25 1972.

In 2013, Downey was charged with murdering four Royal Household Cavalrymen in a bomb in London's Hyde Park in 1982.

He stood trial at the Old Bailey, but the case dramatically collapsed after it was revealed he had received a written assurance from former prime minister Tony Blair's government that he was not actively wanted by the authorities.

The letter was issued under the terms of the controversial On The Runs (OTRs) scheme.

During an extradition hearing on the matter last month, Downey's barrister Garnet Orange SC made an appeal to Ms Justice Donnelly not to proceed with the hearing until after March 29, when Brexit matters have been clarified.

However, Remy Farrell, barrister for the State, said Downey's counsel did not identify how his client would be impinged by Brexit.

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