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A man who was booted out of the US and extradited to Britain over a 41-year-old pub brawl described the ordeal as a "nightmare".
Rory McGrath, an Irish-British national from Leeds living in New York, was shocked when about a dozen officers from the US Marshals Service turned up at his front door with guns drawn.
What followed was a months-long ordeal that saw McGrath sent back to the UK, where he sat in jail for seven months awaiting trial away from his wife and two children back in the States, according to the BBC.
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"It's been very stressful for everybody," he told the news outlet.
"It's like Ground Zero – I don't care to think about it, but it's always going to be there."
McGrath's story started in March 1980, when he was 21.
He had been out drinking with friends and became involved in a fight between two groups of revellers.
He claims he saw police arriving and he fled to a nearby pub, not wanting to get involved with the cops – but investigators argued he was part of a group of men that assaulted an officer who suffered a broken nose.
Five people were charged, including McGrath, who fled to Ireland to avoid prosecution, believing he was being "set up" and falsely accused because of his Irish heritage.
In 1986, after several years in Dublin, McGrath went to the US on what was supposed to be a holiday lasting a few weeks.
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More than a decade later he was living there, having fallen in love with his wife Alice, and began the process to become a US citizen.
McGrath believed the matter of his charge had long been forgotten – authorities had made no effort to contact him and he had travelled between the US and the UK several times with no problems.
It wasn't until 2021, when the US Marshals showed up at his door, that he ever thought about the incident again.
But the process to get McGrath extradited had actually begun years before in 2015, when a local neighbourhood police officer in West Yorkshire revisited the arrest warrant for McGrath and made the Crown Prosecution service aware of his case.
McGrath spent 15 months under house arrest in his home in New York before being flown to the UK in July 2022.
He spent seven months incarcerated at HMP Leeds awaiting trial, and his case was finally brought before a court in February this year.
A jury found him not guilty and he was acquitted, with the judge told jurors he didn't know why the case had been revived after more than four decades.
"We have worse things to deal with, if I can put it that way," he said.
McGrath's lawyer, Daniel Martin, agreed, adding he had "never seen such a flagrant waste of taxpayer resources as in this case".
McGrath is now back in the US and has been reunited with his family, but said the case has devastated his wife and sons.
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- United States
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