Northern Ireland news

Belfast man - captured by DNA from a coffee cup - is to be extradited

Francis Lanigan leaving court in Dublin recently where he lost a legal challenge against his extradition.

A Belfast man who lived in the Republic for 15 years under an another identity is to be extradited to Northern Ireland after a six year legal battle in the Republic.

Francis Lanigan (53), originally from west Belfast but who has been living in west Dublin, was wanted by authorities in connection with the murder of John Knocker, shot dead in a nighclub car park in Dungannon, Co Tyrone in 1998.

Mr Lanigan spent six years fighting a European Arrest Warrant to have him extradited to stand trial in connection with the shooting.

He had been working in Dublin as a self-employed barber using the name Ciaran McCrory for 15-years when he was arrested in January 2013 in connection with the historic murder case.

A previous court was told that gardaí had information Mr Lanigan was living under an assumed name when an undercover detective went to the gym where he worked and carried out a covert a DNA test on a coffee cup the accused had been drinking from.

Tests ascertained that the man living as Ciaran McCrory was in fact Mr Lanigan and a European Arrest Warrant issued.

However, the extradition was challenged on a number of legal points. The case was heard in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court on multiple occasions and on one occasion in front of the European Court of Justice.

During protracted legal battles Mr Lanigan argued his life would be at risk from loyalist and republican paramilitaries if he were extradited.

In an affidavit, Mr Lanigan stated that he joined the Provisional IRA aged 17 and, at the age of 19 joined the INLA.

He stated that in 1984, he was convicted of being part of an INLA 'active service unit' and sentenced to 10 years in the Maze prison.

In 1993, he claimed the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) tried to murder him but they shot the wrong man.

Saying after this he wore body armour every day and I "could not live a normal life.".

By the mid 1990s, Mr Lanigan stated that a feud between INLA Belfast brigade and INLA GHQ intensified.

He stated that his 'increased stature' caused the breakdown of a long term relationship with a woman from west Belfast who was named in the affidavit.

He also admitted being outside the Glengannon Hotel on the night John Knocker was murdered but claimed that he was was in fact the person under attack on that evening.

Mr Lanigan is expected to be extradited to Northern Ireland this week in order to stand trial at a later date in connection with the murder of Mr Knocker

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