Wednesday 20 November 2019

High Court refuses to extradite Bailey over du Plantier death

Judge upholds decision from Supreme Court

Ian Bailey leaves court after a judge refused to order his extradition. Photo: Collins Courts
Ian Bailey leaves court after a judge refused to order his extradition. Photo: Collins Courts

Ruaidhrí Giblin

The High Court has refused to order the extradition of Ian Bailey to France in relation to the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, dismissing the application as an "abuse of process", among other reasons.

Mr Bailey (60), of The Prairie, Liscaha, Schull, west Cork, denies any involvement in the death of Ms du Plantier, who was found dead outside her holiday home in Schull in December 1996.

French authorities previously sought the surrender of Mr Bailey in 2010 but this application was refused by the Supreme Court in 2012.

A second extradition request was transmitted to Ireland last summer, seeking the surrender of Mr Bailey for alleged voluntary homicide.

French authorities have previously prosecuted people for crimes committed against French citizens outside of France. Mr Bailey, who claims gardaí tried to frame him for the killing of Ms du Plantier, could be tried in France in his absence.

Refusing the surrender of Mr Bailey yesterday, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan was "estopped" or halted from obtaining an order for Mr Bailey's surrender in light of the Supreme Court's judgment in 2012 on identical relevant facts.

Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Sophie Toscan du Plantier. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Mr Justice Hunt said he would also refuse surrender because, in the unique circumstances of this case, it was an "abuse of process" for five distinct reasons for the minister to seek surrender on the fresh warrant.

Mr Justice Hunt also said he did not need a reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), as had been requested by the State. He said the minister and his successors were "disappointed litigants" and it appeared to him that the underlying theme of the minister's application was a "conviction that the majority of the Supreme Court were in error" in 2012.

A five-judge panel of the Supreme Court refused to surrender Mr Bailey in 2012 and four of the five judges upheld Mr Bailey's argument that section 44 prohibits surrender because the alleged offence was committed outside French territory, and Irish law does not allow prosecution for the same offence when committed outside its territory by a non-Irish citizen.

Opposing surrender at a High Court hearing in May, counsel for Mr Bailey, Garrett Simons SC, said there was "no way around" the Supreme Court decision in 2012.

In a written judgment handed down, Mr Justice Hunt said he believed the application should be dismissed as an abuse of process for five reasons.

One was the binding and conclusive decision of the Supreme Court on the extra-territoriality issue. Secondly, five years had passed since that decision and it was now 21 years since the death of Ms du Plantier.

Thirdly, there had been no engagement by the minister or the French authorities with the "unusual fact in an extradition case" that Mr Bailey's alleged involvement in the death of Ms du Plantier had been "comprehensively and repeatedly investigated and considered by the police force and prosecuting authorities" in Ireland.

Furthermore, he said the doctrine of precedent also disposed of the matter in Mr Bailey's favour. Mr Justice Hunt said he did not consider it necessary to obtain the opinion of the European Court, as had been requested by the minister.

Mr Bailey said: "Obviously I'm pleased and delighted with the judgment today.

"It's not the end of it because the State will almost certainly appeal that decision today."

Irish Independent

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