Man wanted in UK set to challenge extradition over Brexit

Stephen Watters from Dundalk wanted over alleged role in cigarette and tobacco smuggling

Pic shows: Court 13 at the CCJ in Dublin where the trial of Graham Dwyer who has pleaded NOT guilty to the murder Elaine O’Hara has opened, Thursday 22-01-2015.Pic: Collins Courts.

Pic shows: Court 13 at the CCJ in Dublin where the trial of Graham Dwyer who has pleaded NOT guilty to the murder Elaine O’Hara has opened, Thursday 22-01-2015.Pic: Collins Courts.

 

A Co Louth man, wanted in the UK for his alleged role in the smuggling of cigarettes and tobacco by an “organised crime gang”, is expected to challenge his extradition on a legal point related to Brexit.

Stephen Watters (50), with an address at Kilcurry, Dundalk, is wanted in the UK for alleged conspiracy to fraudulently evade excise duty and for allegedly entering into an arrangement to facilitate the acquisition, use or control of criminal property.

Mr Watters was arrested on foot of a European Arrest Warrant earlier this year and High Court extradition proceedings are at an early stage.

Lawyers for Mr Watters asked Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly on Monday for more time to file points of objection to his proposed surrender. Carol Doherty BL, for Mr Watters, indicated that her client’s case would raise a legal point related to Brexit.

Ms Justice Donnelly remanded Mr Watters on continuing bail until October 8th with liberty to apply “if there was an early resolution” on the Brexit matter before that date.

The European Arrest Warrant issued in respect of Mr Watters states that the case concerns an “organised crime gang” operating in the north west of England and the Republic of Ireland between January 1st, 2014 and September 4th, 2015.

The gang were allegedly involved in the illegal importation and distribution of “non UK duty paid tobacco products” and the “laundering of monies earned from that fraud,” the warrant states.

Seizures in excess of 17 million cigarettes and 1.5 tonnes of hand rolling tobacco have been made which can be attributed to this gang, the warrant states, equating to approximately £3 million of excise duty evaded.

Charges were initiated in respect of seven individuals including Mr Watters. All seven were requisitioned to appear before Liverpool and Knowsley Magisrates Court. Six attended and were sent to Liverpool Crown Court but Mr Watters did not attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

If convicted, Mr Watters is facing a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, the warrant states.