Thursday 21 November 2019

Man in extradition battle granted request for different judge to hear legal aid application

Natasha Reid

A man wanted in the North in connection with a murder has been granted his request for a different High Court judge to hear his legal aid application.

Francis Lanigan last week accused Mr Justice John Edwards of being biased against him, after the judge turned down his application for legal aid to fight his extradition to Northern Ireland.

Mr Lanigan (47), with an address at Pinebrook in Mulhuddart in Dublin, was arrested in January on foot of an extradition warrant in connection with the murder of John Knocker, who was shot dead in a hotel car park in Dungannon in Co Tyrone on May 31, 1998.

The High Court previously heard that he was arrested at a Dublin gym where he was working as a self-employed barber. He first gave his arresting garda a false name, and later said he was working under the name, Kieran McCrory, for his own protection for the past 15 years.

Mr Justice Edwards turned down his application for legal aid earlier this month; revenue records showed his barber shop had previously operated at a loss and the State suggested that he had income from another source in order to support his business.

His barrister, Kieran Kelly BL, said last week that his client wanted to appeal this decision. He asked if the court would consider the application being revisited by a different High Court judge.

Mr Justice Edwards said he held no bias toward Mr Lanigan but, if there was a perception of bias, wouldn’t stand in the way of it being heard by a different judge.

Mr Lanigan had initially said he would prefer to appeal the matter to the Supreme Court but came back before Mr Justice Edwards yesterday (Tuesday) to accept his offer of a different High Court judge.

The judge adjourned the matter briefly to find another judge.

He then remanded Mr Lanigan in custody until July 26, when Mr Justice Michael Peart will hear his legal aid application. Mr Lanigan is back before Mr Justice Edwards on July 30 to deal with the extradition issue itself.

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