Northern Ireland news

Murder suspect extradition may take until next year

Jennifer Dornan enjoying a night out at the Devenish complex just hours before her death
Andrea McKernon and PA

DETECTIVES seeking extradition of former on-the-run prisoner Raymond O'Neill for the murder of Belfast mother-of-three Jennifer Dornan may have to wait until next year to secure the cross-border transfer of the suspect.

The potentially lengthy delay emerged as police confirmed they had recovered a knife that could have been used to stab 30-year-old Jennifer Dornan.

The (PSNI) had been hunting 37-year-old Raymond O'Neill in the wake of the killing earlier this month after the body of Ms Dornan was found in her Lagmore home in the west of the city.

However, O'Neill, who was unlawfully at large after failing to return to Mountjoy prison in Dublin after a period of temporary release, was arrested by Irish police in Co Donegal on Friday.

O'Neill, who is believed to have been living in the Lower Falls area of Belfast since he absconded and had a previous address in Summerhill Walk, Dunmurry, is now back in Mountjoy prison.

Security sources on both sides of the Irish border have indicated it could be many months before O'Neill faces questions in Northern Ireland.

The extradition of a serving prisoner can only be secured once he has served his original jail term and O'Neill has a number of months left on his sentence for assault and burglary.

Furthermore, north of the border, a legal bid to transfer a suspect can only be made once a police file has been submitted to, and reviewed by, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) - a process that can take many months.

It is understood Ms Dornan's family have been made aware of the potential delays ahead.

The young mother was found stabbed to death in her burning house in Hazel View.

Officers believe the killer torched the property in a bid to destroy evidence.

The mother of two boys and girl, all aged under nine, was stabbed with a 14in kitchen knife.

The PSNI officer leading the investigation, Detective Superintendent Kevin Geddes, said a knife had been recovered. It is understood it was found in a neighbouring garden. The knife will now undergo forensic testing.

Mr Geddes said officers were also keen to find a cream-coloured bomber-style men's jacket. Detectives believe the killer was wearing such a garment.

"Our inquiries are continuing and, at this stage, I am keen to locate the cream jacket as we believe it is crucial to our investigation," said Mr Geddes.

"The public have been very helpful to date and we really appreciate the support. Now, I am appealing to anyone who may see a similar-looking jacket discarded anywhere, particularly between Hazel View and Poleglass, or who has any other information to contact us."

He added: "Jennifer's death is a tragedy. Three young children have been robbed of their mother and we need the public's support to ensure we can bring her killer to justice."

A 39-year-old man arrested last week on suspicion of withholding information was released pending a report to the PPS. 

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