Convicted murderers must await outcome of appeal against return to serve life in Britain

Anthony Craig served 28 years before escaping to Ireland, while Michael Anthony Balmer served 27 years before coming to Ireland following his release on licence

Mr Justice Michael Peart, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said the court would reserve judgment until May 21st

Mr Justice Michael Peart, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said the court would reserve judgment until May 21st

 

Two convicted murderers who are appealing High Court judgments ordering their extradition must wait to hear whether they will be returned to complete life sentences in British prisons.

Anthony Craig (66) served 28 years in prison before escaping to Ireland, while Michael Anthony Balmer (62) served 27 years before coming to Ireland following his release on licence.

The surrender of both men was ordered by the High Court last year but they have appealed their extradition on grounds that they will be subjected to immediate preventative detention on their return.

In English law once a person serves the punitive part of their sentence they must remain in prison if they pose a risk to the public, counsel for Balmer, Patrick McGrath SC, submitted to the Court of Appeal.

Both men had served the punitive part of their sentences and their continued detention had been subject to the risk they posed to the public.

That amounted to preventative detention, Mr McGrath said, which went against a fundamental principle of Irish law and was a breach of article 40.4.2 of the Irish Constitution.

Mr McGrath said the Constitution would be breached by the act of surrendering itself – an action caused by the High Court’s order to surrender.

Counsel for Craig, Conor Devally SC, said Craig faced immediate and inevitable preventative detention by order of the High Court and that was not something the Court of Appeal could allow.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Diarmaid McGuinness SC, said it was not as simple as saying that if the order for Balmer and Craig’s return was made then they would be subjected to preventative detention. Both men would be in custody with the right to have their continued detention decided by a parole board.

Mr Justice Michael Peart, who sat with Mr Justice Alan Mahon and Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, said the court would reserve judgment until May 21st.

Craig, with an address in Rathcoole, south Dublin, was convicted and jailed for life for the murder of a man in a park in Blackburn on November 3rd, 1973. Having served 28 years in prison, he escaped, came to Ireland and was arrested by gardaí­on February 14th, 2013.

Balmer (62), with a last address in Cornwall, England, was also sentenced to life imprisonment in 1984 for attacking and killing a woman in her home on July 28th, 1983, in Devon, England.

He came to Ireland in 2012 following his conditional release from prison on licence, subject to the risk he posed to the public. In March 2012 this licence was revoked by which time he was residing in Cork, where he was arrested by gardaí.