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Veronica suspect caught in Holland for UK extradition

FUGITIVE criminal John Traynor, a suspect in the murder of Veronica Guerin, has been held in Holland.

The 62-year-old, known as ‘The Coach’, was detained as he tried to rent a car near Amsterdam.

The man who led the Veronica Guerin murder inquiry, former garda assistant commissioner Tony Hickey, today welcomed the arrest.

“John Traynor is a major criminal suspect and quite a sleazy individual. It’s suspected he played a passive role in the murder of Veronica,” said Mr Hickey.

Traynor is in custody today facing extradition to the UK – where he escaped from a jail sentence almost 18 years ago.

He has lived in Amsterdam and Spain since fleeing after Veronica’s murder in 1996.

Gardai suspected Traynor, who Veronica nicknamed ‘the Coach’, provided John Gilligan’s drugs gang with information about where the reporter would be on the day she was murdered.

She was gunned down on the Naas Road on June 26, 1996 by two men on a motorcyle.

“It’s suspected he was the guy who told Gilligan’s gang that she was in Naas on the day she was killed,” former assistant commissioner Hickey told the Herald today.

“What could be regarded as as devious was that he provided himself with an alibi on the day. He was able to prove he was at Mondello Park at the time,” Mr Hickey said.

The garda’s former chief of detectives said Traynor would be viewed by gardai as a “sleazy” figure who was “a major player in the Gilligan gang.”

He was arrested with Veronica’s killer, Brian Meehan in Dam Square, Amsterdam in September 1997 but at the time detectives did not have enough evidence to link him to the killing and he was set free.

Traynor, who was an underworld source for Veronica, was known as a criminal “fixer.”

The 62-year-old has been on the run from British police for 18 years and now faces extradition to Britain to finish a prison sentence for a multi-million pound fraud.

It is understood he was arrested in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, after he produced a false ID when trying to hire out a car on Monday, August 23.

Traynor now faces being extradited to the UK to finish a term for fraud which involved stolen treasury bonds worth an estimated €4.8 million.

He had only served 12 months of a seven-year sentence when he failed to return from a weekend's compassionate leave that was granted to him by British authorities, fleeing at the time to Ireland.

Traynor's arrest was masterminded by Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency

In a planned sting operation in 1990, police caught Traynor as he directed a courier to take £1 million from a Swiss bank and was remanded in custody until October 1991, when he was convicted for fraud.

He was granted compassionate leave in 1992 to visit his wife and four children but never returned.