maintains innocence | 

Family of New York Irish man extradited to UK on 1980 assault charge launch fundraiser

Rory McGrath (64) has been in prison in Leeds since last July awaiting trial

Rory McGrath

Rory McGrath

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

The family of an Irish-American man who was extradited to the UK to face a 1980 assault charge have launched a campaign to fund his legal expenses overseas.

Rory McGrath (64), who has dual citizenship in Ireland and the US, was extradited to England in July of 2022 where he remains behind bars ahead of his trial.

He is accused of breaking a West Yorkshire Police officer’s nose during a brawl outside of a pub in Leeds.

Ahead of his trial, which is due to begin on January 23, a GoFundMe page was set up with the goal of raising $20,000.

The page says that McGrath maintains his innocence.

“His family hope to raise awareness of Rory's case and hopefully get him back home to New York,” it reads.

“They hope that some good will come from shedding light on his situation, the conditions that he has been kept in and the unusual nature of this case being brought to trial after over 40 years.”

Explaining Rory’s situation, the organiser of the fundraiser said: “In May of 2021, Rory was arrested at his family home and charged in connection with the assault of a police officer in Leeds, in 1980.

“The assault in question, which Rory McGrath maintains he is not guilty of, resulted in a minor, non-life-threatening injury to the police officer who returned to work, lived a full life and has since retired from the police force.”

The page claims 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”.

It added that he has been unable to live a normal life since May 2021.

Rory McGrath

“He spent over a year under house arrest in New York awaiting more information and, in July of 2022, Rory was extradited to the UK where he has since been awaiting trial.

“He is currently imprisoned in HMP Leeds. He has been separated from his wife and two sons, taken from his home, denied his right to a fair and speedy trial and amassed massive amounts of legal debt in the process.”

“Rory is also confined in his cell for approximately 23 of the 24hrs in the day. He has had multiple requests to be present at his hearings ignored and has also had his trial date postponed on numerous occasions.”

The fight from which the charges stem, allegedly kicked off when one of McGrath’s friends, Leslie Swithenbank, attacked another youth outside a pub.

“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.

When a local police officer intervened to break up the fight, a group of Swithenbank’s friends, including McGrath, ran over and allegedly began assaulting the officer.

After being thrown off Swithenbank, the police officer chased down the gang and grabbed hold of McGrath in a nearby car park.

“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 punched him in the face, breaking his nose. The officer, who is still alive, needed surgery to repair the injury.

McGrath and several of his friends were arrested shortly after the brawl broke out, but rather than face court he fled to New York, where he has lived ever since.

When a local police officer intervened to break up the fight, a group of Swithenbank’s friends, including McGrath, ran over and allegedly began assaulting the officer.

After being thrown off Swithenbank, the police officer chased down the gang and grabbed hold of McGrath in a nearby car park.

“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 punched him in the face, breaking his nose. The officer, who is still alive, needed surgery to repair the injury.

McGrath and several of his friends were arrested shortly after the brawl broke out, but rather than face court he fled to New York, where he has lived ever since.


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