Northern Ireland news

Race is on to secure extradition warrant for murder suspect

Jennifer Dornan (30), a mother of three young children murdered in August 

POLICE have launched legal proceedings to have the only suspect in the murder of west Belfast mother-of-three Jennifer Dornan extradited before he can be released from prison in the Republic.

While detectives have not named the suspect he is known to be west Belfast man Raymond O'Neill who is serving the remainder of a prison sentence in Mountjoy for aggravated burglary. The 37-year-old was unlawfully at large when Ms Dornan was stabbed to death.

Police believe the killer then set fire to her house in the Hazel View area of Lagmore, in an attempt to destroy evidence.

Speaking to the Irish News, senior detective Kevin Geddes revealed that a knife discovered in a garden by a neighbour of the victim in the days after the killing has been forensically tested and is the weapon used to murder the 30-year-old.

The murder shocked the community who police said came forward in record numbers to give witness statements and helped trace the suspect's movements on the night of August 2 when Ms Dornan was murdered following a night out with friends. Her children are now being cared for by relatives.

He also said if police are unable to secure a European arrest warrant before O'Neill is released in December they are considering passing the file to An Garda Siochána for trial in the south.

O'Neill was arrested in Bundoran, Co Donegal just over a week after the murder of Ms Dornan.

Mr Geddes revealed police are "actively seeking extradition", with legal proceedings now underway.

"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," he 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.

"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."

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