A Dubliner accused of trying to kill a PSNI officer has lost his appeal against extradition to the North, where he faces trial and a possible life sentence.
According to Ciaran Maguire’s European Arrest warrant, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was found under the officer’s car in the driveway of his home.
The High Court ordered the 29-year-old’s surrender in February, along with that of another Dublin man.
However, Mr Maguire was concerned that his exercising his right to silence when interviewed here would be used against him across the border, and leave to appeal was granted the following month.
Mr Maguire of Kippure Park, Finglas South and Seán Paul Farrell (aged 32), of Stannaway Road, Kimmage, are wanted in Northern Ireland for the alleged attempted murder of a police officer and possession of explosive substances with intent to endanger life. Each man faces life imprisonment on both counts if found guilty.
According to the men's European Arrest Warrant, the PSNI officer’s wife, also a serving officer, awoke in the early hours and looked out of her bedroom window and saw a male on the ground at the driver's door of her husband's car.
The male in the driveway appeared to be working on something underneath the car which, according to the warrant, was subsequently confirmed to be an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).
The High Court case heard that Mr Maguire and Mr Farrell were arrested in Co. Donegal that same night on suspicion of membership of an unlawful organisation.
Mr Farrell’s legal team informed the court that he had exercised his right to silence when being interviewed in Milford Garda Station.
Giollaiosa Ó Lideadha SC said that, as far as Mr Farrell knew, he was being questioned for the purpose of a prosecution in the Republic and was not warned that he was liable to be prosecuted in Northern Ireland.
There was a lawyer present in the garda station giving him advice on the law in the Republic, but not on the law in Northern Ireland, he said.
Mr Ó Lideadha noted that a judge in the North may tell an accused in front of a jury that inferences may be drawn against him if he does not get into the witness box. Here, he said, a jury “must be told in every case” that no adverse inferences can be drawn against such an accused.
Justice Donald Binchy ordered that the Northern Irish authorities be asked if a trial court there could "draw inferences" in connection with interviews carried out with the men outside Northern Ireland, namely in Millford and Letterkenny Garda Stations.
The response was that the prosecution would not ask the court to do so.
Justice Binchy rejected all arguments against their surrender. However, he decided that there was an important point that the Court of Appeal must decide.
He granted Mr Maguire leave to appeal to ascertain whether the facts of the case gave rise to an egregious breach of his constitutional rights.
His barrister, Paul Carroll SC, informed the Court of Appeal in October that his client’s co-accused, Mr Farrell, had been attended by lawyers in the garda station.
“That wasn’t the case in relation to Mr Maguire,” he submitted. “He received a phone call.” He noted that the gardaí had offered him access to local solicitors but that he hadn’t wanted that.
Counsel said that the unique circumstances of this case, involving interviews and lawyers, was relevant when one looked at whether it would be an egregious breach to allow the court in the North to use the silence against his client.
The detention and questioning were carried out and all samples taken within our jurisdiction, he said.
He asked if safeguards in this case, included warnings given during detention and advice from lawyers, were such that the constitutional right to silence would still be vindicated if he was returned for trial.
He also noted that Mr Maguire could be tried for these offences in this jurisdiction.
Conor Devally SC responded on behalf of the Minister for Justice. He quoted from Justice Binchy’s judgment in the case, when he said that it was "unthinkable that adverse inferences can be drawn from the silence of the respondents in Garda custody at a trial in Northern Ireland".
Justice Binchy had said that he was obliged to have trust and confidence in the judiciary of Northern Ireland that no such inferences would be drawn, as indicated in the reply received from the authorities there.
Justice John Edwards, who sat with Court President Justice George Birmingham (presiding) and Justice Úna Ni Raifeartaigh delivered judgment today.
The three judges said they were satisfied that the High Court judge’s analysis of the law was impeccable, and that his conclusion was correct. They added that it was clear that he had considered all of the evidence with scrupulous care.
They dismissed the appeal.