Read Irish reporter's article on Fred Russell
Ed Carty, a reporter for the Press Association in Ireland reports on the latest developments in the Fred Russell case. The following is the transcript of his article:
By Ed Carty
One of America's most wanted men is to be extradited to the US to stand trial for killing three college students in a high speed car crash, the High Court ruled today. After more than four years on the run, Frederick Russell will be sent back to Washington State to face several charges over the fatal pile-up. He could end up serving life in jail.
Following an extradition battle which has lasted almost seven months, Mr Justice Michael Peart ruled that the 27-year-old should be returned for trial. Russell, dressed in a suit and tie, looked relaxed as the judgement was delivered but his girlfriend Hazel McNaboe, who has been at his side all along, sobbed and put her head on his shoulder.
The judge told the High Court all documents required for the extradition were in order.
"I have given this matter considerable consideration and having done so I have concluded that the order for extradition should be made," the judge said.
Russell will remain in jail in Dublin for the next 15 days before arrangements can be made for his return. Comforted by relatives Ms McNaboe was distraught as her boyfriend was led from court by Irish police.
Russell, who had been using an alias as he worked and lived in Ireland for the last number of years will stand trial in America on three counts of vehicular homicide, similar to causing death by dangerous driving. The charges relate to a high-speed collision in June 2001 on a State highway in Washington. During the extradition case the court was told Russell had been drinking and used cannabis in the hours before the crash. He fled the US days before he was due to stand trial making his way across the border to Canada before boarding a flight to London.
He went on the run across Western Europe before eventually settling in Dublin. His details along with a picture were posted on the US Marshall's top 15 most wanted list and he was eventually arrested by Gardai following a tip-off. An informant spotted him working as a security guard in a clothes shop in the city centre. When approached by detectives following a request from American authorities he initially denied he was the man they were looking for. But distinctive tattoos including a Celtic cross confirmed his identity.
Lawyers for Russell claimed that he received a number of death threats after US prosecutors brought charges against him in 2001. The court also heard that he was assaulted by friends of those who died in the car crash while watching a softball game. And in a further plea to the courts in a bid to block his extradition lawyers alleged that Russell was at grave risk of abuse if jailed in America. The court heard previously that the prison where Russell is likely to be held upon his return to Washington state has one of the highest incidences of male rape in the US.
On the night of June 4, 2001 near the town of Pullman, Washington, several students from the nearby state university were returning to campus by car after a night at the cinema. Suddenly a vehicle allegedly driven by Russell pulled into their lane and caused the crash that claimed the lives of three students and left two others with permanent injuries. Russell was slightly hurt and later charged with drink driving, three counts of vehicular homicide and several counts of vehicular assault. He was released on bail to the custody of his father, an attorney and then head of the Washington State University's Criminal Justice Programme. But he fled the country with the trial pending.
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