Tuesday 13 November 2018

High Court orders extradition of construction company director to UK in connection with £5m tax fraud

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Alison O'Riordan

The High Court has ordered the extradition of a Roscommon construction company director wanted in the UK in connection with a £5 million tax fraud.

Thomas Joseph O'Connor (50), with an address at Cloughbeirne, The Walk, Co Roscommon had opposed his extradition on grounds including the impact of Brexit.

However, last week the Supreme Court ordered his extradition with the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Frank Clarke, saying he had been given "more than every opportunity" to raise any points which might be deployed to resist his surrender.

Mr O'Connor was convicted in London's Blackfriars Crown Court in January 2007 and sentenced to 4 years and six months in prison for defrauding the British revenue. After being convicted following a six-week trial, O’Connor, who was on bail, did not attend court for the sentencing hearing and now faces further charges in England of absconding.

Tony McGillicuddy BL, for the Minister for Justice, told Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly today that the Supreme Court had dismissed Mr O'Connor's appeal on October 24 and on foot of that he was required to surrender bail and had done so.

Mr McGillicuddy said an order had been made by the High Court on December 18, 2017 which had placed a stay on the extradition until it's determination by the Supreme Court. "That stay has now been extinguished as the Supreme Court has determined the appeal," he added.

Ms Justice Donnelly made an order directing that Mr O'Connor be surrendered to the UK from tomorrow, October 31.

Mr O'Connor had returned to Ireland where he was arrested on an extradition warrant in 2009 and the High Court ordered his extradition in December 2014.

The Court of Appeal later dismissed his appeal concerning that order in October 2015 and he appealed to the Supreme Court which last February referred Brexit points raised by him to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) for determination.

However, earlier this month, the Supreme Court decided a judgment given in September by the CJEU on another case, the RO case, effectively decided the Brexit points raised by Mr O’Connor.

Last week, the Supreme Court held that there were no issue of European law arising in the case which remained unclear and required further determination by the CJEU. Nor was it necessary for the CJEU to decide a further question concerning Mr O’Connor’s right to be heard.

The Supreme Court dismissed O'Connor's appeal and ordered his surrender to the UK.

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