A 71-year-old woman who appeared to have difficulty “staying wide awake” in court to be surrendered to UK to face charges of assisting in rape of daughter 40 years ago
A 71-year-old woman who had difficulty “staying wide awake” during High Court proceedings is to be surrendered to the UK where she faces charges of allegedly assisting in the rape of her daughter 40 years ago.
The UK citizen, with an address in Co Roscommon but who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is accused of indecently assaulting her daughter and jointly raping her with her then husband at addresses in West Sussex and Devon on dates in the late 1970s. The complainant was aged between 10 and 15 at the time of the alleged offences, which were first reported in 2013.
Authorities in the UK issued a European Arrest Warrant in respect of the woman last March which was subsequently endorsed by the High Court in Ireland.
Her barrister, Liam Dockery BL, opposed her surrender on grounds of antiquity and her medical issues.
Ordering her surrender in the High Court today, Ms Justice Aileen Donnelly said the woman came to Ireland in 1991 where she operated a small farm in the north-west of the country.
Ms Justice Donnelly said there was no doubt the woman had health problems beyond the usual problems for a 71-year-old.
She has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, extreme obesity, a 50% chance of dying from a chest infection, has to wear a pressure mask, appeared in court in a wheelchair and, as Ms Justice Donnelly noted, appeared to have some difficulty “staying wide awake for the case”.
A report from her doctor found her to be unfit to be tried and unfit to be imprisoned.
However, although the doctor's report set out a “sorry picture of health”, Ms Justice Donnelly said she did not find the doctor's report to be “cogent evidence”.
Ms Justice Donnelly said there was no foundational basis for the doctor's opinion. She said the doctor did not really base his opinion on anything other than a statement around her state of health and had not set out his knowledge of trials here or in the UK.
She said it was unclear as to why it was stated that the woman was unfit to be imprisoned where prisons can and have dealt with people who have significant health issues.
It was also true the woman has been able to travel to Dublin, swear affidavits and attend the High Court hearing.
Furthermore, the judge said offences of similar antiquity and respondents older than the woman have been tried before and there was no doubt allowances could be made.
Ms Justice Donnelly said the public interest in the prosecution of crime and the fulfillment of Ireland's international obligations required her surrender.
Ms Justice Donnelly said she would postpone surrender on humanitarian grounds. She said the woman would need time to gather her medical records for transmission to the UK, to attend a doctor's appointment here in September and to make enquiries with regards to bail in the UK.
The woman was remanded on continuing bail to appear before Ms Justice Donnelly again in the High Court on October 2 next.