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General News Thu, 31 Mar 2016

Extradiction trial of British fugitive in progress

The state has withdrawn charges levelled against David Philip McDermottt at the Circuit Court following the start of proceedings towards his extradition to the United Kingdom which are ongoing at the Criminal Division of the High Court.

The extradition proceedings for McDermott, who is alleged to have been part of a gang that smuggled 400 kilogrammes of cocaine, with a street value of £70 million, from Argentina to the United Kingdom, began at the High Court on March 22, 2016.

McDermott had been hiding in Ghana from the British authorities under the name David Smith for the past three years but was picked up at his hideout in Accra on March 11, 2016.

The extradition proceedings began following a request from the British authorities to that effect.

McDermott is wanted by the UK government to stand trial in the Liverpool and Knowsley Magistrate’s Court for narcotic offences in the UK.

He is facing three counts, namely conspiracy to contravene Section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act, 1979, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977; conspiracy to supply a controlled drug of Class A, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, and conspiracy to blackmail, contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 of the UK.

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Facts

According to the prosecution, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) received information from a reliable source in 2014 that the accused person, who had been living in Ghana for the past three years, was involved in drug-related business.

The BNI, therefore, mounted surveillance on him and subsequently arrested him at his hideout at the Tse Addo Residential Area, near the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre, on March 11, 2016.

Investigations by the BNI also revealed that McDermott was on the wanted list of the British police for similar offences.

Further investigations also indicated that the accused person was operating a gold mining company in the Eastern Region and was also believed to be in possession of a Ghanaian passport bearing the name David Smith which he had used to travel in and out of Ghana for the past three years.

Background

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McDermott is suspected of being a member of a Liverpool-based organised crime group involved in a conspiracy to import and supply cocaine, which was seized from a container of frozen Argentinian beef at the Tilbury Docks in May 2013.

He is also wanted for conspiracy to blackmail.

Six other members of the criminal group have been jailed a total of 64 years.

High Court

Before the case could proceed at the High Court, counsel for the Briton demanded the whereabouts of his client’s car and other belongings.

According to Mr. Victor K. Adawudu, security personnel who arrested McDermott seized his Toyota Tundra vehicle, a laptop, a camera and other items.

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Mr. Adawudu asked the investigator in charge of the case, Mr Marcus Yawlui, about the whereabouts of the items but the investigator said he had no knowledge of the said items.

According to the investigator, the only items he had of McDermott were his two passports.

Mr. Adawudu then prayed the court to direct the investigator to produce the document which contained an inventory of the items seized from McDermott when he was arrested on March 11, 2016.

The court, presided over Mrs Justice Merley Wood, obliged counsel’s request and the investigator is expected to produce the document in court on April 4, 2016.

Evidence

Answering questions under cross-examination from Mr. Adawudu, the investigator said he was aware of a 1932 Extradition Treaty between Ghana and Britain.

But counsel suggested to him there was no extradition agreement between Ghana and the United Kingdom and further argued that the 1932 act the investigator referred to had been repealed.

Mr. Yawlui said he was not aware of the repeal, but a Senior State Attorney, Mr. Richard Gyambiby, objected to that line of cross-examination on the grounds that issues raised by the defence lawyer were legal.

Source: Graphic.com.gh