Rory McGrath, a dual citizen of Ireland and the US, was arrested at his home in Pearl River, New York in May 2021 and charged in connection with the assault of a police officer that occurred in Leeds in the UK in 1980.
McGrath's family, who has launched a GoFundMe to support McGrath in his overseas legal battle, is hoping for justice as the Irish man's trial is due to begin in the UK on Monday, January 23.
McGrath, 64, is currently imprisoned in HMP Leeds in the UK after being extradited from the US in July 2022, prior to which he had been on house arrest at his family home in New York.
According to his family, McGrath, who maintains his innocence, has been unable to live a normal life since May 2021 and that he has been denied his right to a fair and speedy trial, and amassed massive amounts of legal debt in the process.
McGrath's family says that the alleged assault in 1980 resulted in a minor, non-life-threatening injury to the police officer and notes that the police officer returned to work, lived a full life, and retired in recent years.
McGrath's family points out that many of the potential witnesses either have very little memory of the details of this altercation or have passed away over the past 42 years.
McGrath, his family says, has traveled internationally "on many occasions" since the alleged assault and was in English jurisdiction for a family wedding in the UK in 1996, and at no time was any attempt made to detain him.
McGrath's family claims that since being extradited to the UK in July 2022, his basic human rights have been infringed upon.
He has had multiple requests to be present at his hearings ignored and has also had his trial date postponed on numerous occasions, his family says.
McGrath is confined to his cell for 23 out of 24 hours a day, his family says, and the prison has not been providing adequate care in the form of check-ups or medical appointments to monitor and treat his ongoing health issues, something which has been deeply concerning for his family.
McGrath was a volunteer at Ground Zero in New York City in the years after 9/11, which his family says resulted in some serious respiratory issues and health complications that have since rendered him unable to work.
His family says it took the prison four months to access his Ground Zero medical website because they were unable to get the area code to call USA. It also took 17 days from when he arrived at the prison before he was able to make a phone call home.
McGrath is not a danger to society in any capacity and deserves better treatment than this, his family argues.
McGrath's family says that counting the 14 months he was under house arrest in NY and the almost seven months he has spent in prison in the UK, McGrath has been incarcerated for over 600 days. By the time his trial starts on January 23, he will have been incarcerated for 612 days.
McGrath's family is hoping to raise awareness of his case before his trial which is set to begin on January 23. They hope that some good will come from shedding light on his situation and the unusual nature of this case being brought to trial after over 40 years.
McGrath's family alleges that the situation appears to be politically motivated, and points to an article about the case published in May 2021 by Heather Cucolo, a professor at New York Law School.
Cucolo said McGrath's extradition is definitely “out of the ordinary” and that post-Brexit politics may have influenced the decision to seek the Irish man's return to the UK.
She also stated that at least 10 EU countries are refusing to extradite their nationals to face prosecution directly related to Brexit, citing constitutional barriers and that British officials may be turning their attention more rigorously to other countries, such as US to effectuate prosecutions.