The Attorney General v Tucker

JudgeMr. Justice McDermott
Judgment Date21 January 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] IEHC 30
CourtHigh Court
Docket Number[2018 No. 249 EXT]
Date21 January 2019

[2019] IEHC 30

[2018 No. 249 EXT]


Extradition – Driving of a motor vehicle in excess of the statutory limit of alcohol – Damage to property – Government of the United States of America seeking the extradition of the respondent – Whether the extradition had been duly requested

Facts: The government of the United States of America sought the extradition of the respondent, Mr Tucker, an American citizen. His extradition was sought in relation to charges arising out of a road traffic crash which occurred on 24th June, 2017 and resulted in the death of Ms Vice. A central issue raised in the points of the defence concerned the absence of correspondence between the three charges in respect of which extradition was sought and offences in Irish law.

Held by the High Court (McDermott J) that the facts advanced in support of Counts 1 and 2 in the affidavit grounding the extradition application of Ms Avalon, Assistant State Attorney for Polk Highlands and Hardee Counties Florida, in respect of the driving of a motor vehicle in excess of the statutory limit of alcohol and the resultant damage to property correspond entirely or almost entirely with the offences under s. 4 of the Road Traffic Act 2010 and s. 2 of the Criminal Damage Act 1991.

McDermott J held that the offence in Count 3 in respect of which Mr Tucker’s extradition was sought by the United States was an extraditable offence and that the necessary proofs had been established before the court and consequently, McDermott J was satisfied that the extradition had been (a) duly requested, (b) that part II of the Extradition Act 1965 applies in relation to the United States, (c) that Mr Tucker’s extradition was not prohibited by the Extradition Act 1965 or any other statutory or constitutional provision and (d) that the documents required to support the request for extradition under s. 25 of the 1965 Act had been produced. McDermott J was therefore satisfied that he should order Mr Tucker’s extradition as requested. Consequently, McDermott J was also satisfied that his extradition in respect of Counts 1 and 2 should be directed in accordance with Article II (4) of the Annex and s. 10(2) and on the basis that all other necessary proofs had been established.

Application granted.

JUDGMENT of Mr. Justice McDermott delivered on the 21st day of January, 2019

The government of the United States seeks the extradition of Samuel Joseph Tucker, an American citizen born on 6th March, 1995 and said to have an address in Florida. Mr. Tucker's extradition is sought in relation to charges arising out of a road traffic crash which occurred in the early hours of the morning of 24th June, 2017 and resulted in the death of Ms. Alyssa Kay Vice, aged twenty two.


Ms. Victoria J. Avalon, Assistant State Attorney for Polk Highlands and Hardee Counties Florida in an affidavit grounding the extradition application alleges that on Saturday 24th June, 2017 at approximately 3:30am, Florida authorities were notified of a crash on Florida's State Road 17 South of San Wan Avenue, at Avon Park, Highlands County, Florida. Upon arrival a deputy sheriff was informed by Mr. Tucker that he had lost control of a Maserati car which he was driving at the time and that the late Ms. Vice was in the right front passenger seat of the car. She was severely injured in the collision and was sadly declared dead at the scene a short time later. The Maserati car was the only vehicle involved in the collision. It had overturned and sustained severe damage: its roof and engine hood were crushed and the front of the rear trunk (boot) lid, rear right passenger door and right rear wheel were missing. Numerous beer bottles were scattered around the car. A nearby chain-link fence and power pole had been broken and damaged by the car. It was determined that the car left the road some 400 feet south of the power pole colliding with it and the fence and overturning four times before coming to rest. Investigations revealed that the car was travelling at approximately 127 miles per hour at the time of impact and up to 140 miles per hour during the last five seconds prior thereto. Mr. Tucker's medical records were also obtained which indicated that his blood alcohol level from a blood sample collected at 04:55 hours was 0.162 g/dl.


A Ms. Harmon informed the police that she had been in the company of the late Ms Vice whom she met at approximately 23.30 in a restaurant. During the course of the evening they were joined by Mr Tucker. Mr Tucker is alleged to have consumed a pitcher of beer while in the restaurant. All three left the restaurant together at 02.15am and drove to a house to obtain the keys of the Maserati car which was in the car-park of a different restaurant. The three got into the car. Mr. Tucker then drove the car at a high rate of speed to another restaurant where he was employed. He then obtained a case of beer and placed it in the car's boot. They left the restaurant at 03.00 and drove to a local race-track. There Mr Tucker allegedly opened a bottle of beer before returning to the car and driving off with the two women. Ms. Harmon alleges that he was now driving on the public road at speeds between 150 and 170 miles per hour and she requested to be let out of the car at approximately 03:22 hours on 24th June minutes prior to the collision.


Arising out of these events the investigating officer charged Mr. Tucker on foot of a sworn information with three violations of Florida law as follows:

Count 1 – driving under the influence with blood alcohol level of 0.15 grams/dl blood or more with property damage to the property of the Duke Energy Company, and violation of s. 316.193(3)(c)(1) Florida Statutes.

Count 2 – driving under the influence with blood alcohol level of 0.15 grams/dl of blood or more and property damage to the property of Venacio Silves Cerapio, and violation of s. 316.193(3)(c)(1) Florida Statutes and

Count 3 – driving under the influence manslaughter, resulting in the death of Alyssa Kay Vice in violation of s. 316.193 (3)(c)(3)(a) Florida Statutes.


On 26th September, 2017 Highlands County Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court Jane Bayless acting on the authority of 10th Circuit Judge Peter F. Estrada issued a capias or warrant for Mr. Tucker's arrest. Copies of the information and capias duly certified by the clerk of the court are set out at exhibits A and B in Ms. Avalon's affidavit.


The extradition request was duly made on the 3rd May 2018 by Mr. Jason E. Carter of the Justice Department of the United States based on the affidavit of Ms. Avalon and the exhibits therein contained. A Diplomatic note enclosing this request dated 14th May 2018 and requesting Mr. Tucker's extradition was presented in proper form in accordance with the various Treaties set out therein and stating that Mr. Tucker was a citizen of the United States believed to be located in Ireland and was wanted to stand trial in respect of the three charges referred to above. On 12th July 2018 The Minister for Justice and Equality issued a certificate under s.26(1)(a) of the Extradition Act 1965 as amended certifying that the request duly made for Mr. Tucker's extradition under the relevant treaties and provisions was received by him in accordance with Part II of the Extradition Act, 1965. Thereafter a Warrant of Arrest was issued by the High Court (Donnelly J.) on the 30th July 2018 for Mr. Tucker's arrest. No issue is taken with the lawfulness or due execution or presentation of any of the documents submitted to the court in these proceedings and I am satisfied that the extradition request has been made in accordance with the treaties and relevant statutory provisions governing extradition between Ireland and the United States of America.


Ms Avalon's affidavit contains evidence as to the identification of Samuel Joseph Tucker. He was believed to have fled the United States for Ireland following the events outlined above. No issue is taken in respect of the identification of Mr Tucker who was later arrested in Cork in circumstances outlined in the affidavit of Garda Anthony Keane of 15th January 2019. Mr. Tucker in the course of his arrest accepted that he was the person whose photograph was exhibited in Ms Avalon's affidavit: he gave a date of birth and address corresponding to that furnished for the person the subject of the request. The court is satisfied on the evidence adduced that Mr. Tucker who was arrested on this application is one and the same person who was the subject of the investigation and the procurement of the capias in Florida and is the subject of this extradition request.


Points of objection were delivered on behalf of Mr. Tucker together with an affidavit sworn by him on 12th December, 2018, on 4th January, 2019. In response to these documents further information was sought and obtained from the United States Department of Justice contained in a letter of 10th January, 2019. The matter was listed for 16th January for hearing. There was insufficient time to obtain a further affidavit verifying the materials set out in this letter and objection was taken to its admissibility in evidence. Some of the material contained in the letter is more appropriate for submission in any event but in relation to issues concerning the reporting and investigation of threats and/or assaults to which Mr. Tucker was allegedly subjected following the crash and prior to his fleeing the United States, the only admissible evidence in respect of that issue arises from the affidavit sworn by Mr. Tucker. An opportunity to furnish a further affidavit from the United States authorities was declined by counsel on behalf of the Attorney General.


A central issue raised in the points of the defence concerns the absence of correspondence between the three charges in respect of...

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