High Court rules Nessan Quinlivan should be extradited

Friday 14 April 2000 22.04

The High Court has ruled that Brixton Prison escaper, Nessan Quinlivan, should be extradited to Britain. He is to face charges of conspiracy to murder and to cause explosions as well as escaping from prison and wounding with intent. 35-year-old Nessan Quinlivan from Ballynanty Beg, County Limerick has been taken into Garda custody, but he is expected to seek bail next Wednesday. He has 21 days to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Mr Justice Peter Kelly said that there were no circumstances that would render it improper, unfair or oppressive to order Mr Quinlivan's extradition. Mr Justice Kelly said that the offences, for which his extradition was sought, were not political offences. Even though there had been extensive prejudicial pre-trial publicity in Britain surrounding Mr Quinlivan, the judge found there were safeguards in English law protecting the right to a fair trial and this was not an exceptional enough reason not to extradite him.

Mr Quinlivan also claimed that it would be fruitless to extradite him, because under the terms of the Belfast Agreement, he would probably have to be freed by July of next year. However, Mr Justice Kelly said the agreement only applied to convicted prisoners and that it was not appropriate to extend the terms of the early release scheme to persons awaiting trial. Even if the scheme did apply to Mr Quinlivan, he said that it was not a good reason to refuse extradition.

Mr Quinlivan escaped from Brixton Prison in July 1991, along with Pearse McAuley from Strabane. The two had been awaiting trial on a number of charges, including conspiracy to murder former brewery executive, Sir Charles Tidbury. Both were subsequently arrested in the Republic, in April 1993, on firearms charges. Mr Quinlivan was sentence to four years in prison, Mr McAuley to seven years.

In November 1996, they were released from Portlaoise Prison as part of the Government's early release programme for Republican prisoners. They were immediately rearrested on the extradition warrants, but were released on bail, pending appeals. Last year, Mr McAuley was jailed for 14 years, being one of four people convicted of the manslaughter of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe, who was shot dead during an attempted robbery in Adare, County Limerick.