Extradition for man convicted of Halloween-night murder
on 18/10/2013 16:44:34
William Joseph O'Connor will face an automatic retrial on a charge of murdering a man in Calais 11 years ago.
O'Connor was found guilty of stabbing Jean Jacques Berteloot a number of times while stealing the French man's car and phone on the night of October 31 or early on the morning of November 1, 2002.
The High Court heard today that O'Connor, who is a British national with previous addresses in Waterford and Dublin, was sentenced in his absence to 30 years in prison for the killing.
He was serving a sentence here during his 2010 trial in France. He was arrested here this March on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the French authorities.
Ronan Kennedy BL, for the State, told the court that if returned to France, O'Connor would be guaranteed a retrial and that there would also be a possibility of bail.
He added that he would be able to appeal the decision twice to different criminal courts.
"The process starts as if it had never occurred," he explained.
He said that the allegation was one of murder and that he was alleged to have been accompanied by an accomplice.
John D Fitzgerald BL, representing O'Connor, said that his client maintained his innocence.
"To say that Mr O'Connor protests his innocence is to put it mildly," he said. "He believes he's being set up by his co-accused."
He said the case was unusual in that his surrender was sought in 2009 so that he could be tried with his co-accused, British man Barry Finch.
He explained that his client was serving a sentence here at the time. He noted that while a person could usually be surrendered while serving a sentence here, O'Connor was actually serving a sentence imposed in the UK.
"He was transferred here," he explained, adding that his client could not have gone to France to face trial, even if he wanted to.
Mr Fitzgerald said he was concerned that O'Connor might now be disadvantaged if surrendered to France, by not having been tried with Finch.
Mr Justice John Edwards noted that there was a guarantee that he would have his case examined by two courts.
"This is a case where I must make an order for Mr O'Connor's surrender," he said, noting that the potential penalty was imprisonment for life.
Mr Berteloot's body was found during the early hours of the morning of November 1 2002 in a car park close to his home. It's claimed he sustained 15 stab wounds.
French authorities allege that O'Connor and Finch were in Calais, but were unable to find a place to stay.
It's alleged that in an attempt to steal a car, O'Connor attacked and stabbed Mr Berteloot, after which both accused men took his car and drove to Amsterdam.