Blackpool man faces extradition to Spain over 1999 sex attack claims

Benidorm - city of skyscrapers on Mediterranean beach. Spain in November.
Benidorm - city of skyscrapers on Mediterranean beach. Spain in November.

A Blackpool man lost his High Court fight against extradition to Spain to stand trial for an alleged violent rape more than 16 years ago.

Thomas McGurk, 48, of Grasmere Road, is accused of attacking a drunken tourist while in Benidorm in March 1999.

The woman, who lives in the UK, claimed to have been picked up by McGurk in a bar and taken to his accommodation.

There, she was propositioned and then raped after she tried to escape through a window, Spanish prosecutors say. She sustained serious injuries which required hospital treatment.

McGurk was questioned, but denied the assault. He said he and the woman had had consensual sex and she had hurt herself falling from the bed.

He had taken her to a private doctor for treatment and then walked her back to her hotel. He had not seen her again, he said.

McGurk was questioned again by Lancashire Police in the UK, but long delays meant it was December last year before he was ordered for extradition.

Challenging the decision at the High Court, his lawyers argued that it would be ‘unjust’ to extradite him now after such long delay.

He had been questioned twice and on bail in Blackpool for eight months before being told there would be no further action.

And it was not even known whether the alleged victim of the rape would give evidence in any trial, barrister Gemma Lindfield said.

Rejecting his appeal, Mr Justice Cranston said the delays would ‘not deprive him of the right to a fair trial’.

Authorities in Spain are subject to the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights, he said.

It was also possible that the alleged victim would be traced and be willing to give evidence, he continued.

And extradition would not be a disproportionate interference with McGurk’s right to protection of his private life, given the serious allegation, he said.

“Here the alleged rape, with its associated violence, is especially serious,” he concluded.

The court heard McGurk served a four-year sentence for a rape while living in Scotland in 1989. His appeal against extradition was dismissed.