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Convicted IRA killer loses court battle against being extradited from Republic of Ireland


Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

A convicted IRA killer has lost a High Court battle against being extradited from the Republic of Ireland to serve out his prison sentence for the assassination of a businessman in Belfast.

Robert Duffy, 50, challenged moves to return him to Northern Ireland after being deemed to have breached the terms of his early release under the Good Friday Agreement.

But Mr Justice Colton ruled today that the extradition warrant is lawful.

Duffy received a life sentence for the murder of building company director John Gibson in October 1993.

Mr Gibson was shot dead in the driveway of his home on the northern outskirts of Belfast because his firm carried out construction work for the British security services. The killing was claimed by the IRA.

Duffy, originally from the Ligoniel Road in the city, served four years behind bars before being freed on licence in July 2000 as part of the Good Friday peace treaty.

One of the conditions of his early release was that he did not become a danger to the public.

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But he was subsequently convicted of the attempted murder of a man in a shooting at a packed bar in Dundalk in March 2007.

Duffy had left the pub to retrieve a shotgun before returning to the premises and firing twice at the victim’s face.

He was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment at Dublin’s Central Criminal Court in 2008.

At that stage the Secretary of State in Northern Ireland suspended his licence on the basis that he had become a danger to the public.

In 2012 the Sentence Review Commissioners (SRC) revoked his licence.

With Duffy due for imminent release from Shelton Abbey prison in Co Wicklow, where he is serving the attempted murder sentence, moves were made to have him returned to Northern Ireland to complete the term imposed for the killing of Mr Gibson.

In April this year a District Judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court issued a warrant for his extradition under section 142 of the Extradition Act.

Duffy launched judicial review proceedings, claiming a failure to take into account public law considerations.

His lawyers argued that the warrant should not have been granted without further inquiries about the decision made a decade ago to revoke his licence on the basis of a risk assessment at that time.

It was also claimed that delays in the case amounted to an abuse of process and breached Duffy’s entitlement to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, Mr Justice Colton held that it was the role of the SRC, rather than the District Judge, to make an assessment on risk.

Finding no merit in any of the grounds of challenge, he declared that the issuing of the warrant was perfectly lawful and in accordance with the statutory provisions.

The judge confirmed: “The proper procedure now is for the applicant to be extradited to this jurisdiction in accordance with the warrant where he can exercise his statutory rights to apply for release should he be minded to do so.

“The application for a judicial review is therefore refused.”

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