Friday 18 October 2019

Declan 'Whacker' Duffy faces prospect of returning to Northern Ireland to continue life sentence for murder

Declan Duffy
Declan Duffy

Former Republican paramilitary Declan "Whacker" Duffy is facing the prospect of a return to Northern Ireland, where he is wanted to continue serving a life sentence for murder.

Declan Duffy (43), with a last address at Hannover Street West in Dublin, had been serving a term of life imprisonment for the murder of British army sergeant Michael Newman in Derby City in 1992 when he was released on license by a Northern Irish parole board in March 2013.

However, Mr Duffy was arrested by Gardaí on December 5, 2015 and was last year jailed by the Special Criminal Court for six years for falsely imprisoning Martin Byrne in Rathcoole / Saggart, Co Dublin on June 9th, 2015.

On June 6, 2016, the Under Secretary of State for Northern Ireland revoked Duffy's license and recalled him to prison. A European Arrest Warrant (EAW), issued by the Northern Irish authorities in respect of Mr Duffy was endorsed by the High Court in the Republic last year.

Addressing Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly, Duffy’s barrister Anthony Hanrahan BL, argued that since Duffy has been revoked of his license, sending him back to serve his full tariff would be “double punishment” as he has already served “what was deemed by the Sentence Review Commissioner to be an appropriate sentence".

Mr Hanrahan stated that “having been given the benefit by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement Act it would be oppressive” if Mr Duffy were to return to serve the life sentence.

He explained to the court how this was an “unusual case”, as the offending behaviour was carried out in a separate jurisdiction in which Duffy would be serving his six-year sentence in full, before having to return to Northern Ireland to once again begin his life sentence.

Counsel also explained how there was a “distinct lack of clarity” when trying to submit a new application to the Sentence Review Commission.

Mr Hanrahan also spoke to the court about the harsh implications Brexit may have on his client’s case, stating that, “The 1998 Act is a feature of the Good Friday Agreement” and that causes “real concerns that Duffy will no longer be able to apply for re-release under the Sentence Review Commission” post Brexit.

Ronan Kennedy BL, for the Minister for Justice & Equality, responded to these points by explaining that Duffy’s “arrest in the Republic meant he had breached the conditions of his license not to be a danger to the public” and that this means he is once again subject to the life sentence in Northern Ireland.

“The facts of the matter are simply, Duffy pleaded guilty to the offence of murder, he acknowledged the conditions of the license. Is there anything abusive or oppressive about seeking his surrender to serve the balance of the life sentence lawfully imposed?” Mr Kennedy continued.

Responding to the matter of Brexit, Mr Kennedy stated that “Mr Hanrahan is asking the court to analyse foreign laws without putting before it any evidential basis, and that is of concern".

He also explained how it is the courts in the United Kingdom who are best placed to make judgements regarding Duffy’s case and to apply the appropriate principles.

Mr Duffy has been remanded in custody by Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly until March 4 when a decision regarding his case will be made.

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