The High Court has granted bail to an Irishman who allegedly caused the deaths of two Irish backpackers near Perth in 2007.
Australian authorities are seeking the extradition of Eamonn Mark Driver, 29, of Stanley Heights, Slane, Co Meath, on charges of causing the deaths of Colm Reilly, 20, a builder from Slane, and Kiara Duncan, 20, a beautician from Kentstown, Co Meath, by dangerous driving.
Mr Driver, a single man currently living on disability payments, was granted bail by Mr Justice John Edwards “on stringent conditions”. These include a surety of €75,000, that he sign in twice a week with gardaí, reside at his home address, not leave the jurisdiction and be of good behaviour.
The Australian Attorney-General’s Department told the Irish Echo: “On 15 September 2011, a 29-year-old Irish national was arrested in Ireland pursuant to an extradition request made by Australia.
The Irish national is wanted to face prosecution in Western Australia for two offences of dangerous driving occasioning death. The granting of bail and the consideration of Australia’s extradition request are matters for Irish authorities and it is not appropriate that we comment further.”
The bond was set at €75,000 after the judge was told that Mr Driver expected to receive “a six-figure payment” as compensation for injuries he sustained in a road crash in 2009, where the other side had admitted liability. The judge refused an application by Mr Driver’s lawyers for a recommendation that their legal costs be paid by the state.
Gardaí had expressed their concerns about granting Mr Driver bail.
Det Sgt Jim Kirwan of the Garda Extradition Unit said that “from the beginning”, Mr Driver’s attitude towards the charges he faced has been “one of evasion”.
:: Shattered pelvis
He said Mr Driver left Australia shortly after the incident.
He said that the Australian authorities claimed that in about 2009, Mr Driver was in contact by telephone with them and had indicated that he intended to return, but did not do so. He had been living openly in Ireland since his return from Australia.
He said that he had suffered serious and permanent injuries to his leg in the 2009 road crash and would require surgery in the future.
It is alleged that Mr Driver was behind the wheel during the accident on Halloween night, 2007, which resulted in the deaths of Ms Duncan and Mr Reilly, and left Mr Driver himself in hospital with a shattered pelvis.
Mr Driver allegedly lost control of the Toyota Corolla hatchback he was driving on Broun Avenue, in the Broadford area of the city, careering across the median of the road, flipping, and crashing head-first into an oncoming car, driven by a 63-year-old woman, who escaped the crash without serious injury.
Up to seven people are believed to have been in the car at the time of the crash, with four of those passengers escaping without serious injuries.
Mr Reilly died instantly, while Ms Duncan passed away three days later in Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Perth.
A warrant for Mr Driver’s arrest was issued by the Australian attorney general’s office last year after he failed to appear in Perth magistrate’s court to face charges in connection with the crash.