In the courts: Judges dismiss Guerin murder suspect's fight against extradition to Ireland

Click to follow
A man wanted by the Irish police in connection with the murder of award-winning investigative journalist Veronica Guerin yesterday lost his High Court battle against being sent back to Ireland to face trial.

Two judges in London dismissed an application for a writ of habeas corpus made in an attempt to free John Gilligan from custody. His lawyers are now considering whether to appeal to the House of lords against the decision.

A total of 18 extradition warrants were granted by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin seeking Mr Gilligan's return to face a murder charge arising out of the shooting of Ms Guerin in June 1996, as well as firearms and drug trafficking offences. Today Lord Justice May, sitting with Mr Justice Astill, rejected claims by his lawyers that there had been unfairness and an abuse of process in legal proceedings which led to the order for him to be delivered up.

The judges upheld an order made at Woolwich magistrates' court in south London last October that Gilligan should be sent back to Ireland to face the murder charge, although two of the warrants were quashed.

Lawyers for Mr Gilligan unsuccessfully argued that the order was flawed because there was insufficient material before the stipendiary magistrate enabling him to conclude that the offences specified in the Irish warrants corresponded with English offences, as required by law.

Mr Gilligan, 45, of Dublin, had been facing prosecution in England for drugs-related offences. But the English trial was adjourned after the courts accepted that moves to return Gilligan to Ireland should take precedence.

Yesterday, the High Court ruled that the decision was "fully justified" and not open to judicial review. The judgment also found that there had been "good and sufficient cause" for extending the time limits for his custody.

Mr Gilligan described himself as "the prime suspect" shortly after Ms Guerin's death, but strenuously denied being involved in the murder.

He was arrested in October 1996 at Heathrow airport on charges of drug trafficking and money laundering, and is now being held at the high security Belmarsh prison in Woolwich. He was alleged to have been attempting to board a flight to Amsterdam with a case containing pounds 330,000 cash, mostly in Irish and Northern Irish currency.

Ms Guerin, 37, an award-winning journalist and mother of a young son, was shot dead at the wheel of her car in Dublin by two hitmen on a motorcycle in June 1996 prompting one of the biggest investigations undertaken by the Irish police.