Sunday 22 April 2018

Irish truck driver extradited for questioning over alleged unpaid VAT on £1m cigarettes

The survey was based on test purchases of illicit tobacco from retailers, market traders, pubs and mini-cab offices over three-day periods
The survey was based on test purchases of illicit tobacco from retailers, market traders, pubs and mini-cab offices over three-day periods

A truck driver wanted for questioning in the UK over alleged unpaid VAT on over to £1m worth of cigarettes found in his truck, has been extradited by the High Court.

Gavin John Maloney (34), with an address in Creewood, Slane, Co Meath, is wanted by British authorities to face questioning on the discovery, which was made when he was driving through the UK.

He was detained by UK police at the time, questioned and released on bail to return for further questioning but absconded himself, the court heard.

Today Mr Justice John Edwards said that there was a strong public interest in the extradition and said he was not disposed to uphold objections by his lawyers.

Counsel for Maloney, Diarmuid Collins BL, asked that Mr Maloney remain on bail while arrangements were made for his transfer.

Mr Tara Burns SC for the State said there was not objection and Mr Justice Edwards exceeded to the request.

Mr Collins previously told the court his client had answered every question put to him and had corresponded with UK authorities from his home address on a number of occasions.

He said there had been undue delay by the Irish state in executing the warrant for his arrest. In essence, Mr Collins said, the High Court signed the warrant and it took Slane gardaí two years to drive 15 minutes up the road to execute it.

He said his client wished to resolve the issue at some point but not now when he had a young child at home.

Ms Burns accepted that a delay had occurred and it was a concern but she said the alleged offences, which Maloney faced questioning over, were very serious.

Maloney was well aware, she said, that he was legally obliged to return to the UK for questioning.

She said Maloney seemed to have a functioning family unit, which operated very well. If he was surrendered, she said, there would be no minding difficulties, which arise when a parent is removed because his family was so well set up.

To deny his surrender would be a punishment on this and the issuing state, she said, simply for something the authorities here were in default with.

She said contact between the family could occur through skype but Mr Collins said Maloney would not have access to the online telecommunication service if he were in custody.

In an affidavit read by the judge to the court today (THURS) Mr Maloney said he intended to contest the charges against him.

He said he did not have the means to return to London for questioning by police as requested.

Mr Maloney said he had been with his partner for 11 years and they married in 2011.

He said he had two stepchildren and the couple had one son who was born in 2012. He would not have chosen to have another child had he known about the extradition proceedings, he said.

In his judgment Mr Justice Edwards said there was nothing unusual or exceptional identified in the effects that will be experienced by Mr Maloney personally.

“It is something Mr Maloney and his family will have to cope with as a matter of adversity,” he said.

The judge said he was not convinced he would not have married or conceived the youngest child if he knew the issuing authority was seeking his rendition.

“He knew well that the UK authorities would maintain an interest in him,” said the judge.

The court heard 32 pallets or 6.4 million cigarettes were seized when the truck was routinely stopped in Dover and the value of the consignment was worth £1,064.000 STG.

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