Thursday 19 April 2018

Father convicted in Hungary over road deaths wins extradition fight

Tim Healy and Fergus Black

A FATHER who had offered to serve a prison sentence here over the deaths of two children in a road crash in Hungary has won a lengthy legal battle against his extradition.

Ciaran Tobin had been in custody since last November after surrendering his bail, and is wanted in Hungary over the incident 12 years ago.

But he was hugged and kissed by his wife and a number of other people yesterday after the Supreme Court refused a second request to extradite him.

Mr Tobin of Offington Drive, Sutton, Dublin, declined to comment as he left the court.

Two children -- Marton Zoltai (5), who was standing on the pavement, and Petra (2), who was in a pram -- were killed when the car Mr Tobin was driving mounted a footpath and struck them in Leanyfalu, near Budapest, on April 9, 2000.

Last night, Istvan Toth, a lawyer for Bence Zoltai, the children's father, said the family would not accept the Supreme Court verdict as the "final point".

And he vowed the family would take the case to the international court if necessary.

Following the accident Mr Tobin (48), a qualified accountant working in Hungary at the time on secondment for Irish Life, was subsequently charged with negligent driving causing death.

Tragedy

He was sentenced to three years' imprisonment by a Hungarian court.

This sentence was passed in his absence because, after co-operating with local police, his passport was returned and he came home after completing his work in that country.

He had denied the charges.

Extradition proceedings were then brought against him in 2007 to have him serve that sentence.

However, they were dismissed by the High Court and also by the Supreme Court after the courts found he had not "fled" Hungary.

But by 2010 the Irish Government had amended that Act to remove this "fled" requirement and two months later, the Hungarian authorities issued a new warrant for Mr Tobin.

Mr Tobin, a father of two, then lost his High Court challenge to this second attempt to extradite him.

He again appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which yesterday allowed his appeal on a three-two majority.

Mr Tobin had offered to serve his sentence in this country and voluntarily went into custody in November last year.

However, the court heard there was no provision under Irish law to allow him to serve his sentence here.

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman called this a unique and unprecedented case and an appalling tragedy.

He said the case was relevant to anyone who travels abroad and especially anyone who drives a car while abroad.

Irish Independent

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