Legal problems hit bid to extradite assisted suicide activist

Attempts to extradite an American right-to-die activist over the alleged assisted suicide of a woman in Dublin over five years ago has hit a legal quagmire, an inquest heard today.

Attempts to extradite an American right-to-die activist over the alleged assisted suicide of a woman in Dublin over five years ago has hit a legal quagmire, an inquest heard today.

Rosemary Toole Gilhooley, 49, from Dalkey, Co Dublin, died in a rented house in Donnybrook in January 2002.

On a previous occasion, the Coroner’s Court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed that criminal proceedings be taken against a named individual in relation to the alleged assisted suicide.

It has been alleged West Virginia-based right-to-die activist, Reverend George Exoo, and his assistant had been contacted by Ms Toole Gilhooley. She is alleged to have paid $2,500 (€1,750) to cover the costs of flights and hotels for Mr Exoo and his assistant to travel to Ireland to be present at the suicide.

Insp Martin McGonnell from Donnybrook Garda Station said a reminder of the extradition request had been sent via the Department of Justice to the US State Department on January 17.

“It is a bit of a legal quagmire,” Insp McGonnell said, adding gardaí were facing technical difficulties. “All I know is it is gone to the US State Department,” he said. “The length of time of the sentence is causing some difficulties.”

The inspector told the brief sitting of the inquest that for a person to be extradited from the US to Ireland they would have to potentially face a sentence of longer than 12 months if convicted.

On the extradition request, he added: “From our perspective it is still live.”

He said the case had also been mentioned before an international conference in Ireland around 18 months ago.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell granted Insp McGonnell an adjournment of six-months until July 13.

Sgt Seamus Finn of Donnybrook Garda Station told the coroner the family had not attended today’s sitting but he would keep them informed.

The coroner’s court heard the inquest was first opened on December 18, 2002 and has been mentioned on numerous occasions since.

Under the 1993 Criminal Law (Suicide) Act, anyone who assists in the suicide of another person will be guilty of a criminal offence which is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

In 2005, the High Court found Ms Toole Gilhooley had no right to leave money to a Canadian right-to-die organisation in her will.

Three executors to her will had challenged the money she left to the Compassionate Chaplaincy Foundation Ltd in Berkley, West Virginia, which was founded by Reverend Exoo in 1997, and the Last Right Publications in Victoria, Canada.

The High Court found these were not charitable donations in Irish succession law.

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