Monday 20 November 2017

Man wins Supreme Court appeal to stop extradition to Hungary over car crash

A MAN has won a Supreme Court appeal against a fresh bid to extradite him over a fatal road accident in Hungary which left two children dead.

Ciaran Tobin, who has been in custody since last November after surrendering his bail, was hugged and kissed by his wife and a number of other people after the five-judge court gave its decision. The court ordered his immediate release.

Mr Tobin (47) brought the appeal against a decision to extradite him over the accident in the city of Leanyfalu, near Budapest, on April 9, 2000, when the car he was driving mounted a footpath and struck the two children, one of whom was in a pram.

Mr Tobin, who was working in Hungary at the time, was later sentenced to three years imprisonment by a Hungarian court although this was in his absence because, after co-operating with local police, he had returned 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 but were dismissed by the High Court and also by the Supreme Court, on appeal.

The court found a requirement of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) Act 2003, under which his extradition was sought, had not been met because he had not "fled" Hungary after the incident but had left, returned and left again without impediment.

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

Mr Tobin, Offington Drive, Sutton, Dublin, then lost his High Court challenge to this second attempt to extradite him.

He again appealed that decision to the Supreme Court which today allowed his appeal by a three-two majority.

After he left the court, Mr Tobin did not comment.

In their judgments, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Nial Fennelly and Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell concurred.

Mr Justice Hardiman agreed with arguments made on behalf of Mr Tobin that it was an abuse of process to seek a second extradition and that if the situation had been reversed, a Hungarian national could not have been delivered to Ireland to serve a sentence imposed here.

Mr Justice Fennelly said Mr Tobin had opposed his extradition through the judicial process and he had, in accordance with law, succeeded (in the first extradition). It was not then suggested the law was erroneous and Mr Tobin had no reason to expect it would be changed, even though it was, the judge said.

Mr Justice O'Donnell agreed with the reasoning of his two colleagues.

Chief Justice Susan Denham and Mr Justice John Murray disagreed.

In the European Arrest Warrant seeking his extradition, it was claimed that as a result of accident, Marton Zoltai (5) and Petra Zoltai (2), were killed. Marton had been standing on the footpath and Petra was sitting in a pram.

It was claimed Mr Tobin's wife and two Irish friends were also in the car at the time. The following day, all four attended a police station and made a statement with the assistance of a Hungarian lawyer.

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