An American man living in Lisburn but wanted over a drugs-related murder in Florida came to Northern Ireland because he fell in love, a court heard today.
Counsel for 22-year-old Jonah Horne disputed suggestions that he fled following the fatal shooting last summer.
Sean Doherty said: “He has arrived in this jurisdiction not as a fugitive, but because he fell in love with a girl from here. She is pregnant with their child, he met her when she was working in the United States.”
US authorities are seeking Horne’s extradition for his alleged role in the murder of Jacob Walsh on June 7, 2016.
The 25-year-old victim was shot outside apartments at North Military Trail, Boca Raton. His killing was linked to an apparent drug deal, according to reports at the time.
Horne was detained under a provisional warrant at a house on Drumard Drive in Lisburn, on March 13.
As he applied for bail at Laganside Courts in Belfast, it was claimed that DNA, video and witness evidence connects him to the killing.
Stephen Ritchie, representing the US authorities, said Mr Walsh’s blood was found in a vehicle connected to Horne. “The application for bail is resisted not only because of the seriousness of the offence, but also because this man is a fugitive,” he argued.
Judge Patricia Smyth was also told a proposed bail address in Lisburn was unoccupied when police checked.
However, Mr Doherty countered that Horne’s partner has a lease for the flat.He said Horne was a university graduate who volunteered for a Christian organisation.
It was disclosed that the wanted man’s mother is prepared to put up a £5,000 cash surety to secure his release. His girlfriend, who attended the hearing, was also said to be willing to sign bail for him.
Mr Doherty emphasised the need for assurances Horne would not face the death penalty if returned to the US. Judge Smyth said she was not prepared to grant bail at this stage.