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Alleged Silk Road admin with 'severe Asperger's' led away from family ahead of extradition

Gary Davis has been led away from his family and now faces extradition to the US.

Screengrab of website.
Screengrab of website.

Updated 1.10pm

A WICKLOW MAN alleged to be an administrator of the Silk Road website, which dealt with illegal drugs and hacking software, has been put into custody ahead of his extradition to the United States.

Gary Davis, 28, of Johnstown Court, Kilpedder, Wicklow, is wanted by US authorities to face trial on charges of conspiracy to distribute narcotics, conspiracy to commit computer hacking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

If convicted in the US, Davis could receive a life sentence.

His extradition was ordered by the High Court last August. He appealed the decision which was dismissed by the three-judge Court of Appeal today.

Davis had opposed his extradition on grounds that he suffers from both a form of autism known as Asperger’s Syndrome and depression. Among his points of objection were that if he is extradited he will be detained in an inhumane and degrading manner.

Counsel for Davis, John O’Kelly SC, told the Court of Appeal that people with severe Asperger’s were “very heavily” reliant on family support and on their world remaining pretty much the same but Davis would be “totally torn” from his roots and isolated from his family, were he to be extradited.

O’Kelly said his client would require a system of care so individualised to him that it simply was not available in the US prison system. He said statements from US prison authorities about their system were “aspirational” and accorded more with the policies of the Federal Bureau of Prisons rather than the reality.

Dismissing his appeal today, Justice Alan Mahon said the Court of Appeal was being invited to reach a different conclusion on the same evidence that was before the High Court.

He said he agreed with the Attorney General that an appeal could only be brought on a point of law.

Justice Mahon said he wished to emphasise that he in no way diminished or trivialised the very real concerns of Davis’ family in the face of being extradited.

Justice George Birmingham Justice John Edwards said they agreed with Mahon’s judgment.

Emotional scenes

After the judgment was delivered, Davis accepted the judgment with a nod to the large number of family members and supporters who had joined him in court. They came to embrace him, amid emotional scenes, but he was led away by prison officers before he could embrace all of them.

He has been on bail since his arrest in January 2014.

It is alleged that Davis was an administrator of the Silk Road website using the pseudonym “Libertas”, according to the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

The website is said to have facilitated the sale of illicit drugs including cocaine, crack cocaine, crystal meth and other illegal drugs.

Purchasers of illicit drugs from the website were paid in “Bitcoins” and Silk Road revenue was based on a commission of between 10% and 15% of sale revenue.

Commissions earned by Silk Road are said to run to tens of millions of dollars.

It is alleged that Davis was paid $1,500 per week for his services.

In the course of its investigation, the FBI arrested a US citizen Ross Ulbricht, whom it is believed is the owner and operator if the website. It is alleged that Davis’ involvement was identified from information extracted from Ulbricht’s computers.

Davis is a 28-years-old single man who lives with his parents in Wicklow. He is the youngest of five children, has a poor employment history, and is “obsessed with computers” and is described as a “loner, naive and immature”.

In a report dated 21 January, 204, Prof Michael Fitzgerald, consultant psychiatrist, diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome, depressive disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. In his view, Asperger’s Syndrome has been evident since childhood.

Prof Simon Barron Cohen, professor of development psychopathology at Trinity College Cambridge, confirmed Fitzgerald’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. Barron-Cohen rated Davis’ Asperger’s Syndrome as being “very severe”.

Read: Mother releases harrowing video of daughter suffering seizures in bid to access medication

Read: Health authority recommends medicinal cannabis to be made available for “specified conditions”

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About the author:

Ruaidhrí Giblin

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