After three-year extradition battle, Jennifer Dornan murder accused appears in dock
A MAN charged with the murder of a west Belfast mother-of-three tried to use Brexit as a defence against being extradited from the Republic to stand trial.
Raymond O'Neill is facing charges of murder and arson endangering life in connection with Jennifer Dornan's death in August 2015.
The 40 year-old was arrested in Bundoran, Co Donegal a week later and remained in custody in the Republic before being extradited yesterday on foot of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
The mother-of-three was found stabbed inside her burning home at Hazel View in the Lagmore area of the city.
O'Neill, with a previous address at Amcomri Street in west Belfast, will now stand trial charged with murder and arson as well as being separately charged with the rape of another woman back in 2003.
Despite a series of legal challenges, an order was made for his extradition to Northern Ireland.
His appeals against his extradition went all the way to the European Court of Justice, with O'Neill claiming that Britain leaving the EU should mean that the EAW is no longer valid.
He also claimed conditions in Maghaberry prison, following several damning inspection reports, were unsafe and therefore it would be against his human right to transfer him.
However these were rejected by judges in Dublin and Europe.
On two further occasions court proceedings had to be postponed after O'Neill took an overdose hours before he was due in court and required hospital treatment.
Members of Ms Dornan's family sat quietly in the public gallery yesterday as O'Neill appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court in a wheelchair.
A preliminary enquiry hearing has been listed for next month.
District Judge Paul Copeland was told that because of the delay in the extradition the prosecution was case ready and would proceed to the preliminary enquiry stage on December 4.
Defence solicitor Paul Farrell, while acknowledging it was "an emotive case", made a bail application on behalf of his client.
The lawyer claimed the accused is not forensically connected to the murder, instead, he contended, only clothing and hairstyle evidence links O'Neill to allegedly having entered Ms Dornan's home.
Mr Farrell, of McIvor Farrell Solicitors, also also raised concerns over the separate allegations of rape now being made against O'Neill, saying an initial decision was taken not to prosecute in 2005, before a review more than a decade later.
Refusing bail however the judge cited the potential for absconding.
"I'm also satisfied from what has been asserted on the complaints to inform the warrants, and what has been articulated in court, that there's more than adequate evidence here to justify the charges at this particular juncture" he said.
Remanding O'Neill in custody, Mr Copeland said: "I direct his production for preliminary enquiry on December 4 here at Laganside Courts in Belfast."