Belfast Telegraph

US man who left States for love fears extradition over Florida drugs murder

Jonah Horne appeared before Belfast High Court on Friday
Jonah Horne appeared before Belfast High Court on Friday

By Alan Erwin

An American man arrested in Co Antrim over a drugs-related murder in Florida is resisting extradition amid fears he could spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted, the High Court has heard.

Jonah Horne, 24, is being sought in connection with the fatal shooting of Jacob Walsh three years ago.

In March a judge in Belfast ruled that he should be discharged from custody.

United States authorities are now appealing that decision in a further attempt to secure the extradition of Mr Horne over his alleged role in the murder.

Mr Walsh, 25, was shot outside apartments at North Military Trail, Boca Raton on June 7, 2016.

His killing was associated with an apparent drug deal, according to reports at the time.

A previous court heard claims that Horne's DNA, video and witness evidence links him to the murder, with the victim's blood said to have been found on a vehicle connected to the wanted man.

He was detained under a provisional warrant at a house on Drumard Drive, Lisburn in March 2017.

Since then, however, he has been fighting attempts to have him returned to the US.

Horne's lawyers have denied that he is a fugitive who fled following the fatal shooting.

Instead, they contended, he fell in love with a woman from Northern Ireland and travelled to be with her.

Central to his case is uncertainty surrounding any assurance from the Governor of Florida that he would serve no more than 40 years in prison if ultimately found guilty.

Lord Justice Deeny, hearing the appeal with Madam Justice McBride, cited a US Embassy note which referred to the possibility of a life sentence being imposed.

Counsel for Horne, David McDowell QC, argued that correspondence should be interpreted as his client facing the possibility of never being released.

Tony McGleenan QC, representing the American authorities, acknowledged a potential "ambiguity" in how one document had been worded.

Seeking an adjournment to clarify the issue, he said: "I'm not in a position to examine what that means; there's an obvious tension."

Following submissions the judges agreed to postpone the appeal to next month.

Horne was remanded back into custody until that further hearing.

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