09 Aug 2022

Court rules on elderly man wanted by FBI who is jailed in Portlaoise

FBI want him extradited to the United States to face child porn charges


Midlands Prison Portlaoise

An elderly inmate of the Midland Prison Portlaoise who the FBI believes has been producing and selling child pornography “for at least 30 years” has lost a legal challenge to his pending extradition.

Daniel Mullan, a dual US Irish citizen, is wanted by the FBI to face trial in New York on charges related to the sexual exploitation and transportation of a minor as well as two counts of possessing child pornography. 

Mr Mullan, who is fighting his proposed extradition to the United States from custody in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise, was indicted by a Grand Jury in New York in September 2017, while serving a sentence for sexual offences in Ireland. 

The High Court ordered his extradition to the United States in December, and the Court of Appeal upheld that decision on Friday, April 12. 

Mr Mullan’s lawyers challenged his extradition on grounds that he suffered from a “multiplicity” of serious illnesses including sight loss, inability to walk, morbid obesity, atrial fibrillation, chronic cardiac failure, anxiety and cellulitis. 

He was pushed in and out of court in a wheelchair and sat through the hearing with a blanket over his knees, wearing sandals, close to the judges as he is hard of hearing. 

They also contended that extraditing a 79-year-old Irish citizen in poor health would be disproportionate and not in the public interest. 

Dismissing Mr Mullan’s challenge, President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham said the evidence put forward regarding Mr Mullan's health was "scant". 

The fact of the matter was that Mr Mullan had spent a significant period of time in custody in Ireland and the Irish prison system had been able to cope, the judge said. 

"There is no reason whatever to believe that the US Federal prison system would not be able to cope as well," he said, adding that reassurances were provided by an official from the US Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

Mr Justice Birmingham the High Court judge was entitled to conclude that it would not be contrary to the public interest to extradite him. 

He said the fact Ireland was a signatory to an international agreement with the United States meant there was always a degree of public interest in allowing individuals to be put on trial. 

In Mr Mullan’s case, he said the public interest was enhanced by the seriousness of the alleged offences, being sexual offences directed at a minor. 

He said Mr Mullan had “put forward very little” in respect of his private life. 

“While he is an Irish citizen, as well as a citizen of the United States, his primary connection to Ireland has been that he has been a prisoner in this jurisdiction.”

He said none of the factors present, either viewed individually or cumulatively, required a refusal to extradite. 

In conclusion, Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Ms Justice Máire Whelan and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy, said he was not prepared to uphold any of the grounds of appeal but would uphold the order to surrender.

Solicitor Cahir O’Higgins, for Mr Mullan, sought a stay on the order for surrender, pending an application for a Supreme Court appeal, which was granted for seven days. 

Mr Justice Birmingham said the stay, postponing surrender, would be for seven days to allow the filing of an application to the Supreme Court. If the application was made, the stay will continue until the Supreme Court decides to take the case or not. There is no automatic right of appeal to the Supreme Court. 

Counsel for the Attorney General, Ronan Kennedy BL, was awarded costs against Mr Mullan.

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