A man wanted in connection with child sexual offences in Inishowen was handed over to Gardaí at the border last Thursday after losing his battle against a European Arrest Warrant.
The man, who cannot be named due to reporting restrictions applied by the court, was brought to Buncrana District Court after the PSNI brought him to Bridgend.
Detective Garda Siobhan Tighe told the court that she charged the man with three counts of sexual assault against a child, alleged to have occurred in North Inishowen in 1991.
After the first charge, Det. Gda.Tighe said the man, who is aged 60, replied ‘no, not yet’ and after the second and third charges, he replied ‘no’.
She told the court that the man had been wanted in relation to the alleged charges since 2015, but had been challenging a European Arrest Warrant before the High Court and the Supreme Court in the North since 2017.
However the court heard that the man’s attempts to fight against the arrest warrant had failed after the Supreme Court refused his application. He was subsequently brought to court in Northern Ireland where bail was revoked and the PSNI transported him to Bridgend where he was handed over to Gardaí.
Garda Inspector Siobhan Mollohan said the Director of Public Prosecutions had directed trial on indictment before the Circuit Court but they were awaiting the Book of Evidence to be produced.
Det. Gda.Tighe said she was objecting to bail on three points – the seriousness of the charges, the nature and strength of the evidence against him and his likelihood to abscond given the fact that he ‘evaded’ the EU arrest warrant for a number of years.
“This man has not co-operated with Gardaí at all,” said Det. Gda.Tighe.
“I had to put in a request via Interpol in 2015. In 2016 I was informed by Interpol that the man was aware of the charges against him after being informed by the PSNI. The European Arrest Warrant was executed in November 2017 and he has fought it since.
“This man was informed to contact me at Buncrana Garda Station but at no point did he do this and today is the first day I have met him.”
Defence barrister Gareth McGrory BL from Madden and Finucane Solicitors said his client had been on bail in Northern Ireland since the EU arrest warrant was executed and there had been no issue with his client complying with strict bail conditions, which included signing one three days a week, since then.
“These are also just allegations and my client denies the allegations and will continue to maintain that throughout the trial,” Mr. McGrory BL stated.
“It could be a considerable about of time before this case comes before the Circuit Court – he is anxious to have the matter resolved.
“He is not a flight risk, he is married with children and settled in Northern Ireland and is happy to surrender his passport and sign on in this jurisdiction. We are also in a position to offer a cash surety from his daughter to the amount of €5,000,” the defence barrister added.
He also stressed the importance of a publication order to restrict any press reporting that could reveal the man’s identity. He said the man had fought for an injunction to have his name kept out of the media in Northern Ireland but was automatically entitled to the right to anonymity at this stage in Donegal.
Judge Paul Kelly said he would grant bail under certain circumstances, including the €5,000 independent surety. He must also sign on weekly at Buncrana Garda Station and have no contact with any witnesses involved the case whatsoever.
The 60-year-old must surrender his passport and be contactable by mobile phone 24 hours a day. He remanded the case back to Buncrana in February for production of the book of evidence.
Judge Kelly also granted the man legal aid, in the name Michael Halleron of Madden and Finucane Solicitors, and applied a publication order in order to protect the identity of the alleged victim involved.