Irishman accused of slugging UK cop to be extradited — 40 years later

Irishman accused of slugging UK cop to be extradited -- 40 years later

An Irishman who has lived in the New York area for about 40 years may soon be forced to return to the UK – after a federal judge ruled he could be extradited to face a rap for allegedly slugging an English cop in 1980. 

Federal magistrate Judge Paul E. Davison wrote in an order Wednesday that Justice Department attorneys had met their burden of probable cause in their case to extradite 62-year-old Rory McGrath, a dual citizen of Ireland and the United States. 

McGrath, who was arrested in May, can remain free on bail pending his extradition, Davison added in the order. 

The Pearl River resident is accused of breaking a West Yorkshire Police officer’s nose during a brawl outside of a pub in the English city of Leeds in 1980, according to court documents. 

The fracas in Leeds that night kicked off when one of McGrath’s friends, Leslie Swithenbank, allegedly slugged another youth outside of a pub in the Garforth section of the city. 

“They were giving us a load of lip so I went and cracked one everybody joined in and we knacked ’em,” Swithenbank later told police.

McGrath has lived in the United States for 40 years.
McGrath has lived in the United States for almost 40 years.

A local cop intervened in the fight – and a group of Swithenbank’s friends, including McGrath, ran over and allegedly began assaulting the officer. 

After being thrown off Swithenbank, the cop chased down the toughs and grabbed hold of McGrath in a nearby parking lot, according to court documents. 

“The silly c—t got hold of Rory this time,” one of the youths involved in the fight later told police, according to the documents. 

McGrath then allegedly “booted the cop” and slugged him in the face, breaking his nose, according to the documents. The officer needed surgery to repair the injury. 

McGrath and several other of the young men involved in the fight were arrested soon after. But instead of fighting his case in court, he fled to the US, where he’s lived for some 40 years, working as a union construction worker and later as the owner of commercial properties.

Rory McGrath in a 2008 booking photo
McGrath can remain free on bail while he awaits his extradition.

In an effort to beat the extradition, McGrath’s attorney, James Kousouros, said the extradition request was defective in part because it was made based on a 2004 agreement that he argued was not applicable after the UK separated from the European Union.  

Judge Davison shot down the argument, highlighting that two other federal courts in Florida ruled in similar cases that Brexit did not affect what was agreed on in 2004.  

“We continue to maintain that the extradition is procedural defective, however we are most gratified that the court ruled in Mr. McRrath’s favor on the issue of detention,” Kousouros told The Post Wednesday. 

At his initial hearing in May, Judge Davison agreed to release McGrath on bail after his lawyer highlighted a number of health issues, which he said McGrath sustained by volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11.

“On the one hand, Mr. McGrath has apparently been a fugitive from justice for most of his adult life. On the other hand, I am told that he attended a wedding in the United Kingdom during the intervening years, which suggests to me that he did not view himself as a fugitive,” he said.

In his decision to keep him free on bail Wednesday, Davison noted the relatively minor punishment McGrath will face in the UK if he’s convicted of the crime. 

“He faces limited penalties if convicted in the United Kingdom and would certainly be eligible for bail if charged with similar offenses in the United States,” he wrote.

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