Jonathan Collopy set to be extradited to Bulgaria over drink driving sentence

Judge satisfied ‘adequate provision’ will be made for Limerick man’s back issues in Sofia

Jonathan Collopy, of St Mary’s Park, Limerick, is pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice  on Parkgate Street in Dublin on Tuesday.  Photograph: Collins Courts.

Jonathan Collopy, of St Mary’s Park, Limerick, is pictured at the Criminal Courts of Justice on Parkgate Street in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A Limerick man is set to be extradited to Bulgaria where he is wanted to serve a sentence for drink driving.

Jonathan Collopy, a father of six who has a conviction for serious drugs offences from the early 2000s, had contested his surrender at the High Court.

His lawyers submitted that there was “a real risk” Collopy would receive inadequate medical care for his “severe back pain” should he be extradited to Sofia Prison in Bulgaria due to its “substandard facilities”.

In response to a question from the High Court, Bulgarian authorities confirmed their prisons were not overcrowded and had adequate health facilities.

Delivering his judgment on Tuesday, Mr Justice Paul Burns said he was satisfied that “adequate provision” would be made for the respondent’s medical needs while in detention in Bulgaria.

He was not satisfied that there were substantial grounds for believing that the respondent was at “a real risk” of being subjected to “inhuman or degrading treatment” by virtue of the likely conditions of his detention in Sofia Prison.

Collopy (34), of St Mary’s Park, Limerick City, is wanted in Bulgaria to serve an 18-month sentence having been convicted of drink driving in his absence in May 2016. He was arrested on November 5th last on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued by Bulgarian authorities.

In 2019, Collopy, who has a car sales business, was arrested in France on an EAW “but his surrender was refused by the French authorities”.

Facilities

In an application to the High Court for Collopy’s surrender, Gráinne Mullan BL, for the Minister for Justice, said prison facilities in Bulgaria were equipped with a private bathroom, direct access to daylight and natural ventilation.

While noting that the respondent had a back condition, Ms Mullan said there was “active treatment” for prisoners in a specialised hospital in Sofia.

She said Collopy had also raised the issue of violence amongst prisoners due to his previous experience in a Bulgarian prison in 2013.

“Prisoners can apply to the court if they believe any breach of their rights is about to happen or has happened,” she indicated.

In reply, Katherine McGillicuddy BL, for Collopy, said her client previously had surgery for “disc problems” and is currently on a waiting list for more surgery due to severe back pain.

She said foreign nationals had reported problems with bed bugs in the Bulgarian prison and appropriate bedding such as pillows were missing from most of the beds.

Sgt Jim Kirwan, who objected to bail at the initial extradition hearing, said Collopy has 17 previous convictions, mostly for road traffic matters in recent years but, he added, in 2004 he was jailed for serious drugs offences.

Mr Justice Burns made an order for Collopy’s surrender to Bulgaria and told the respondent he would have 15 days to consider the judgment.

Collopy was remanded in custody until Friday, when the matter is listed for mention.