Man extradited to the UK for pub brawl that happened over 40 years ago
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An Irish-British man living in the US was extradited back to the UK over a pub scuffle that happened more than forty years ago.
Retired construction worker, Rory McGrath, had been living in the US for years with his wife and children when US Marshals stormed into his house one morning in 2021.
Acting at the request of prosecutors in England, the Marshals informed McGrath that he would stand trial for a drunken brawl occurred in the UK in 1980.
By his own admission, the Leeds-born man had been involved in a fight during a night out with friends. And when the officers arrived, he hid in a nearby pub.
British prosecutors alleged that McGrath was among the men who assaulted an officer, resulting in a broken nose, cuts and bruising. However, he claimed he wasn't the suspect that police were looking for and, once he was charged, he left for Ireland.
McGrath revealed that he absconded as he believed he was being 'set up,' as he told the BBC.
"I believe I was forced to abscond because [of] the simple reason they fabricated identification," he explained.
Now an American citizen, McGrath also recalled the harassment he faced as an Irish national living in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, as tensions between Irish and English were at an all-time high due to the IRA bombings.
McGrath said that his experience with receiving abuse as an Irish national led to him moving back to Dublin and laying low.
"All my life, since I can remember, [I was] constantly harassed by the English police, so I knew it wasn't going to be a good outcome," he said.
But things took a turn when McGrath went to the US for a holiday in 1986 and ended up relocating there.
He met his wife Alice in New York in 1990 and they tied the knot two years later. And in 2002, he successfully applied for US citizenship.
During his time in the US, McGrath often returned to the UK and didn't consider himself a fugitive.
"I know that they knew where I was as early as 2002, for the simple reason all the paperwork from the citizenship went back to England," he said.
He also claimed that he never encountered any trouble when travelling to the UK.
It took six years before US authorities got to an unaware McGrath, who was arrested in May 2021.
In 2015, a local neighbourhood police officer in West Yorkshire 'became aware and revisited' an outstanding warrant for McGrath and the machine was set in motion to extradite him to the UK.
After spending 15 months under house arrest in Pearl River, New York, he was flown to the UK in July 2022, where he spent seven months awaiting trial.
It was only last month that McGrath was found not guilty after a week-long trial.
McGrath's lawyer Daniel Martin said he didn't understand why it became imperative for McGrath to stand trial.
"The victim was a police officer and obviously a request was made by his police force," he said.
"It seems this has been sat on some cabinet somewhere gathering dust until one day someone picked it up and decided it was imperative [McGrath] be extradited."
However, West Yorkshire police said that their pursuit of McGrath was 'appropriate' and this was a consequence of him 'deliberately avoiding the criminal justice process by failing to attend court at the time he was charged'.
They also said that 'the Crown Prosecution Service was consulted and confirmed that the case met the evidential threshold and was still in the public interest to pursue'.
LADbible has reached out to West Yorkshire Police for additional comment.