Northern Ireland news

Police launch extradition proceedings

Murder victim Jennifer Dornan on a night with friends at The Devenish just hours before she was murdered

DETECTIVES investigating the brutal murder of popular mother-of-three Jennifer Dornan have launched extradition proceedings to have the only suspect in the case brought across the border to face trial.

While police haven't named the suspect, he is known to be west Belfast man Raymond O'Neill, who is currently serving the remainder of a jail term for aggravated burglary in Mountjoy prison in Republic.

Due for release in December, the PSNI must seek a European arrest warrant to have the 37-year-old apprehended for questioning.

O'Neill had absconded from prison in the Republic in April of this year while on parole and was unlawfully at large when Ms Doran was murdered.

O'Neill was arrested in Bundoran, Co Donegal just over a week after the murder of the 30-year-old, who was stabbed to death. Her home in the Hazel View area of Lagmore was set on fire in what detectives believe was an attempt to destroy forensic evidence.

Police have been liaising closely with An Garda Siochána after O'Neill was identified early in the investigation as the main suspect from CCTV footage.

Speaking to the Irish News, senior investigating officer Kevin Geddes revealed police are "actively seeking extradition" with legal proceeding now underway.

Adding that if police did not secure an extradition warrant by December when O'Neill is due for release, they are considering passing the case onto the garda to investigate under a rarely used north/south treaty which allows the case to be run in the Republic.

"It's been started in that we've engaged with the southern authorities and we've engaged with the PPS and the paperwork is in, so effectively the process is underway", Mr Geddes said.

"We are not anticipating him [the suspect] being out before Christmas and so we are confident at the minute that we are on track.

"Ideally we would extradite, but if he gets out before we can then if he came north he would be arrested.

"I'm confident we have enough to seek extradition that file now goes to the PPS and they now have a decision to make as well in relation to that.

"We can, under extra-territorial legislation, apply to the garda and say, 'Right he's wanted in the north can you take the case on in the south'.

"So we can do that as well and then we pass all our evidence to the south basically".

And the senior officer confirmed that police are not looking for anyone else either in connection with the murder or for assisting in the aftermath of the brutal killing.

"We have spoken to a number of people as witnesses who have given us accounts of his movements, so we're confident that anyone involved was as a witness and they're not holding anything back so we don't see them as suspects".

Detectives previously said the killer stabbed Ms Dornan with a 14-inch blade. A knife was recovered after being found in the garden of a nearby house by a member of the public who alerted police.

Mr Geddes said forensic tests have since shown that knife to be the weapon used to kill the west Belfast woman.

"That's the bit we haven't said until now- that was the murder weapon, and I'm confident that we can forensically link it to the murder," he said.

"We wouldn't get onto that detail because obviously we have to be fair to any individual but what I would say is that I'm absolutely confident that weapon can be linked forensically to the murder of Jennifer.

"We had really good assistance, we have a lot of CCTV footage which has been gathered and we identified witnesses using CCTV as well as the suspect.

"There's one outstanding item. We believe from the CCTV and from the witness descriptions that our suspect was wearing a cream coloured bomber jacket.

"It hasn't turned up yet and that's key because we think that we have forensics to get from that."

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