A FUGITIVE criminal and key suspect in the Veronica Guerin murder investigation faces extradition to Britain after being arrested in a small town in Holland.
John Traynor, 62, was nabbed by Dutch police on foot of a request by Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) to have him brought back to England to complete a seven-year fraud conviction.
It is understood SOCA received intelligence that Traynor was in the town of Amstelveen and forwarded a European Arrest Warrant to Dutch police.
Garda sources yesterday indicated that if Traynor returns to an English prison they could seek a judicial request to travel to Britain and question him, in the presence of British police, regarding Ms Guerin’s murder.
Sources said while this could happen, they were slow to predict what would actually happen. They pointed out that Traynor could not be extradited from England to Ireland for questioning, but only to face charges.
“If SOCA have gone to this trouble, you would expect he will be in jail for four to five years, so he’ll be in a place close to us if we want to talk to him,” said one Garda source.
Traynor, a one-time senior associate of crime lords John Gilligan and Martin ‘The General’ Cahill, was given temporary release from English prison in November 1992, after serving just over one year of a seven-year sentence.
Traynor, known as The Coach, went to Ireland to visit his wife and four children but never returned to Britain.
The senior criminal was once a key contact for Sunday Independent journalist Guerin, who was writing frequently about Cahill and later Gilligan. That relationship subsequently turned sour.
As an associate of Gilligan, Traynor was wanted by Gardaí following the murder of Guerin in June 1996.
Investigating gardaí gathered evidence that Traynor may have supplied information to Gilligan that the journalist was due to appear at Naas District Court on the day of her shooting.
Traynor fled to Spain after the murder and moved between there and Holland.
Revealing Traynor’s apprehension, a statement from SOCA said: “Convicted fraudster, John Traynor, aged 62, has been arrested in the Amstelveen area of the Netherlands by the Dutch regional police following cooperation between SOCA and Dutch police.
“Traynor, who was arrested on Monday evening [23 August], has been on the run since November 1992 when he failed to return to HMP Prison Highpoint, Suffolk, after a short period of home leave.
“Traynor is believed to have been living in the Netherlands for a number of years. He is now awaiting extradition to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence.”
It is not yet clear when Traynor will be taken to court or how long the extradition proceedings would take.
Long arm of the law reaches out after 20 years
Cormac O’Keeffe on the criminal linked to Veronica Guerin’s murder
JOHN TRAYNOR could have been forgiven for thinking the British justice system had forgotten about him. Almost 20 years had passed since he did a runner from an English jail, where he was serving a seven-year sentence for fraud offences.
In November 1992, he had been granted temporary release to visit his wife and four children in Dublin. He was little over a year into his sentence, following his conviction for fraud in October 1991.
He had been in custody since his arrest in June 1990 after Met police and the British fraud squad were tipped off that he had possession of stolen treasury bonds worth millions of sterling.
Traynor, a serial fraudster and ‘fence’ in Ireland, had moved to England in the late 1980s. He linked up criminals in England and had got hold of the bonds.
He placed the bonds in a Swiss bank and was drawing a mortgage on the basis of the bonds. He had previously taken out £100,000. But when he went back in June 1990 to take out a further £1m, British police pounced.
He was such a model prisoner in custody that he was granted temporary release – never to return. He had gone back to his home area, Rathmines, in south Dublin. He was born there in 1948, one of eight children.
He got involved in criminality from an early age and got his first conviction for house breaking. He clocked up convictions for larceny, car theft and assault. In 1997 he got five years for possession of a firearm with intent.
He was a very close associate of Dublin gang boss Martin Cahill, known as the General. He was a useful source of information for Cahill and worked as a fixer and fence for stolen goods, including some of the Beit paintings.
He proved to be a crucial link to John Gilligan and secured an IR£100,000 loan for him from Cahill. Gilligan, a cigarette smuggler, went on to become the biggest cannabis trafficker in the country.
Traynor had developed a range of criminal interests, including embezzlement, fraud and prostitution, in addition to his legitimate business as a car salesman.
He had also developed a relationship over the years with Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin and supplied her information about Cahill and then about Gilligan.
However, that relationship turned sour and Traynor was suspected of providing crucial information leading to her murder. Gardaí suspect Traynor told Gilligan’s gang that Ms Guerin was due to attend Naas District Court on the day she was killed.
He fled to Spain after the murder and over the years developed criminal contacts there and in the Netherlands. He continued to work as a car salesman near Alicante, Spain.
In October 1997, he was arrested along with Brian Meehan at Amsterdam. Meehan was later extradited to Ireland, stood trial for the murder of Ms Guerin and was convicted.
Traynor was released and fled back to Spain. The Criminal Assets Bureau issued a £1m tax demand against Traynor. A mortgage firm sold a house in Co Waterford belonging to Traynor in part payment and CAB also sought a compulsory purchase order on a house he owned in Dublin.
His freedom came to an end last week after British police heard he was holed up in the Dutch town of Amstelveen.
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