Editor, The West Australian: I respond to your report “Extradition appeal fails” by Belle Taylor. Since 2004 Mr Vincent T. O’Donoghue has fought being sent back to Ireland over an alleged $100,000 cheque scam (TWA Apr 3.) According to Mr O’Donoghue in a letter to me dated 4 Sept 2011, he is a 60-year-old retired lawyer from Dublin. He arrived in Australia in 2002 with his wife and one child, and now has three more children. Mr O’Donoghue has been fighting extradition back to Ireland since 2004, and was on bail for over five years without breach. In April 2009 he was found eligible for extradition, his bail was cancelled and no consideration was given to his wife and four children, and has been in custody in Hakea prison ever since.
The Federal Justice Minister signed a section 23 warrant for his extradition. Mr O’Donoghue appealed the Minister’s decision through the Federal Court listed for 13 June 2011, Mr Justice Gilmore presided over the two-hour hearing without Mr O’Donoghue present, he says, even though he was in the holding cells waiting to be called. Mr O’Donoghue protested to Justice Gilmore and the Chief Justice Patrick Keane of the Federal Court in Brisbane in regard to procedural unfairness. In spite of this, according to Mr O’Donoghue’s letter to me, he was not permitted to re-open the substantive matter. Justice Gilmore handed down his decision against Mr O’Dononoghue on 29 August 2011. The chief justice responded by saying what happened on 13 June 2011 was wrong and should not have happened and even Justice Gilmore agreed.
As a human rights campaigner I am concerned at the rough justice handed to Mr O’Donoghue, suffering three years imprisonment, breaking up and upsetting his very young family, wife and four children. The reason why his bail was refused, because he was seen as a flight risk, in spite of the fact he was five years on bail without breach. I find this situation most appalling and shame on the justice system in Australia.
Brian G. Tennant, member of Civil Liberties Australia,