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Ex-INLA man Francis Lanigan sought over Tyrone murder of John Knocker loses legal bid in Republic of Ireland

By Saurya Cherfi and Ray Managh

Published 18/09/2015

Murdered: John Knocker
Murdered: John Knocker

A man wanted to stand trial for murder in Northern Ireland whose fingerprints on a coffee cup gave him away to gardai in Dublin has lost a legal challenge against his detention.

Mr Justice Max Barrett ruled that 50-year-old Francis Lanigan's continuing incarceration at Cloverhill Prison in Dublin was lawful.

He also refused to allow him out on bail pending consideration of an appeal.

Lanigan was arrested by gardai in January 2013 on foot of a European arrest warrant in connection with the murder of John Stephen Knocker, who was shot dead in a hotel car park in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, on May 31, 1998.

Mr Knocker was gunned down at the Exit 15 nightclub after travelling from west Belfast to pick up his girlfriend.

Lanigan had been granted bail last December pending the outcome of his extradition case.

The Ex-INLA man was previously jailed for 10 years for conspiracy to murder police officers.

The court had heard during Lanigan's extradition hearing that gardai had been aware he had been living under the assumed name of Kieran McCrory for a number of years before being arrested.

He had been working in a gym in Dublin for 15 years, and he had been identified by gardai covertly going to the building and carrying out a DNA test on a coffee cup. The High Court in Dublin had previously heard that Lanigan was arrested at the Dublin gym where he was working as a self-employed barber.

Judge Barrett said in a reserved judgment that there was no fundamental denial of justice or any fundamental flaw which would justify granting Mr Lanigan his application for release.

The defendant had brought proceedings under Article 40 of the Irish Constitution after his extradition to Northern Ireland was ordered by the High Court in Dublin earlier this month. Lanigan has been detained at Cloverhill Prison since.

The defendant, with an address at Pinebrook, Mulhuddart, Co Dublin, claimed he risked being murdered by loyalist and republican paramilitaries if he was surrendered to authorities here.

But a judge told Robert Barron SC, who appeared with barrister Tony McGillicuddy for the State, that Lanigan's allegation of unlawful detention under an alleged breach of European laws could not proceed.

Lanigan had claimed he had in December last year initiated proceedings challenging the constitutionality of provisions in the European Arrest Warrant Act.

He claimed his purported surrender, before his legal action was heard, was unconstitutional and barred under the Act.

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