A convicted killer who absconded from custody in Northern Ireland over seven months ago has been granted bail after his arrest here on two extradition warrants.
James Meehan (53) with given addresses in Derry city and Headford Grove, Kells, Co Meath, was sentenced in 2009 to life imprisonment for the murder of popular Derry man ‘Gentle’ Jim McFadden in May 2007.
On Monday morning he was arrested by arrangement on foot of arrest warrants issued by the courts in Northern Ireland, seven months after he was declared “unlawfully at large” by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Meehan has served a little over the mandatory minimum period of 14 years and had effectively been under “house arrest”, defending counsel Maria Brosnan BL told the High Court. He had been released on “home leave” but went missing on October 9th last.
Detective Garda Robert Comerford told Leonara Frawley BL, for the State, that he arrested Meehan by appointment at the Bridewell garda station in Dublin city shortly after 10am on Monday morning.
He said he asked Meehan if he was born in Derry and that the accused replied “no, Drogheda”. He said he advised Meehan of his statutory rights including the right to consent to early surrender to extradition.
Dt Gda Comerford told the court that he was objecting to bail on the basis that Meehan was unlawfully at large at the time.
Ms Brosnan told Mr Justice Kerida Naidoo that her client had left the UK jurisdiction and moved south to live with his brother in Kells and to work there.
She said that in December his solicitor Ciarán Mulholland contacted the Department of Justice here to notify them of Meehan’s presence. Ms Brosnan told the court that her client “is not a man who is putting his head in the sand”.
Justice Naidoo said it was a compelling feature of the case that the applicant was in contact with the Department of Justice.
“He certainly wasn’t hiding out. He is not laying low or hiding out here,” he said. He said Meehan was “living openly” and that he couldn’t consider that he wouldn’t engage with the extradition proceedings.
Ms Brosnan told the court that her client was putting forward a sum of €2,000 and that his brother Thomas Meehan, who was present in court, could act as an independent surety and put forward €1000.
Justice Naidoo approved Thomas Meehan as a surety and granted bail. He remanded the defendant to appear again in court on June 12th.
He ordered Meehan to sign on daily, to provide a mobile phone number to gardaí and to be contactable at all times on this number, and to not apply for any travel documents.
Meehan is originally from Kells and he went on the run there back in 2009 just days before a jury convicted him of the murder of 42-year-old Mr McFadden.
The victim was repeatedly punched in the chest and died from a ruptured heart in an attack which took place after the wedding reception of Jim Mc Fadden’s sister-in-law in Donegal.
Post-Brexit the UK was designated a “third country”, with the effect that the provisions of the European Arrest Warrant Act 2003 that otherwise would only apply to Member States, apply to the UK.