By Eoin Reynolds
Several UK extradition cases were adjourned today as the High Court waits for the Supreme Court to hear arguments on whether Brexit makes it unsafe to send suspects and convicts to Britain.
Justice Aileen Donnelly adjourned the cases until February 19 to let the Supreme Court deal with the impact of Brexit in the case of a Roscommon construction company director wanted in the UK for his part in a £5 million tax fraud.
Thomas Joseph O’Connor (49), with an address at Cloughbeirne, The Walk, Roscommon was convicted in London’s Blackfriars Crown Court in January 2007 and sentenced to 4 years and six months in prison for defrauding the British revenue.
After being convicted following a six-week trial, O’Connor, who was on bail, did not attend court for the sentencing hearing and now faces further charges in England of absconding.
He had returned to Ireland where he was arrested on an extradition warrant in 2009.
Since then the High Court has ordered his extradition, a decision he unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Counsel for Mr O’Connor then went to the High Court to say that he should not be surrendered as Brexit posed a risk of a violation of his fundamental rights.
Justice Aileen O’Donnelly rejected that argument saying there was, "no evidence he is at any real risk of his rights being breached." Mr O’Connor then took the case to the Supreme Court and a hearing is due to take place on January 24.
Seven of those who appeared before the High Court on foot of extradition warrants issued by the UK authorities today were adjourned on what lawyers have taken to referring to as the "O’Connor point" or the "Brexit point". They will appear before the court again on February 19.