The High Court has ordered the extradition to Germany of a 50-year-old Irish man who allegedly tried to strike a man with a wooden chair leg and commit robbery in a Berlin takeaway almost 30 years ago.
Making the order on Monday, Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo said that Liam Patrick Daly (50), who was born in Dublin but with an address in Birmingham, had been “a major contributor to the delay” in bringing him before the courts to face the charge.
The respondent, who objected to the extradition due to the length of time that has passed, is wanted by police in the Federal Republic of Germany on a charge of attempted aggravated robbery.
His barrister, Willie Hughes BL, had argued that it would be “unjust and oppressive” to extradite Mr Daly for a “stupid act” where “a very drunk man went into a takeaway in 1994” and, he submitted, was incapable of carrying out the offence.
The details of the charge are that on February 18th, 1994, the respondent allegedly entered a snack bar at Uhlandstrasse in Berlin armed with a wooden chair leg and tried to strike a man and steal money. This alleged robbery failed as the man was able to defend himself and took the chair leg off his assailant.
The respondent was arrested and questioned, and during his detention he allegedly made admissions saying that he had a mask on his head and a chair leg in his hand but only wanted to scare the other man. He allegedly said that he drank beer beforehand and wanted money. He was detained for three days and then released after giving his fiancée’s address.
Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo said the respondent was not charged with any offence before being released but given the nature of the offence and the fact he was detained for three days, the respondent could not reasonably believe the German authorities were not going to pursue a prosecution against him.
His passport was later examined by the German police, and he was not told he had to answer the charges and continued to live in Germany. The respondent claimed that this “lulled” him into believing there were no proceedings against him.
An attempt was made to serve a warrant on him in March, 1994, but this was unsuccessful as he had left his residence, and in March, 1996, an international search was initiated.
The respondent was arrested in England in February 2003, and an extradition case was heard by the court of appeal, who found in his favour and refused the extradition. The court at that time, nine years after the alleged offence, ruled that it would be unfair to return him as he was unlikely to face a fair trial given the delay.
“The court is entitled to have regard as to how his behaviour contributed to the delay,” said Mr Justice Naidoo, adding that “the respondent has been a major contributor to the delay.”
“His conduct did contribute to the delay, as had he made any inquiries into the matter, it would have been dealt with, so he bears a significant part of the responsibility for it,” he said.
He said that the respondent argued that in the context of the time passed, the German authorities were under obligation to take steps to establish his whereabouts.
The authorities, however, said that the international search that was begun in 1996 had not been interrupted at any time, and they were under no obligation to go further. The judge pointed out that when the German authorities became aware of his presence in England, they issued a warrant, which was unsuccessful.
Mr Justice Naidoo also rejected the respondent’s claim that the alleged offence was at the lower end of the scale.
“I am not convinced it is minor as the complainant had to defend himself and disarm him, and this is not in the respondent’s favour,” he said.
While acknowledging that the respondent’s mother had been diagnosed with cancer and the respondent argued that his surrender to Germany would have an adverse effect on his family, Mr Justice Naidoo said he was not satisfied that his surrender would be an abuse of process.
“I do not accept that he could reasonably believe that they had abandoned the prosecution,” he said.
He made an order for the surrender of the respondent to the Federal Republic of Germany but agreed to postpone this to allow the respondent to facilitate the care of his mother.
“Having waited 27 years, they can wait another few months,” he said.
The judge made an order for the respondent’s surrender and postponed this to July 24th.