Ryan McGowan’s father in custody over murder

Dundee United star Ryan McGowan, second left. The Australian footballer's father is being held in custody in Australia over allegations he murdered his former brother-in-law 16 years ago. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
Dundee United star Ryan McGowan, second left. The Australian footballer's father is being held in custody in Australia over allegations he murdered his former brother-in-law 16 years ago. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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THE father of a top flight Scottish football star has been told he will remain in custody in Australia indefinitely while he awaits extradition to Scotland over an unsolved 16-year-old murder.

Police Scotland want to question James McGowan, the father of Dundee United and Australia player, Ryan, in connection with the murder of his former brother-in-law, Owen Brannigan.

Mr Brannigan was fatally stabbed at a flat in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, on 29 November 1999.

McGowan, 56, was arrested by Australian police in December 2013 and has remained in custody for the last 15 months.

He applied for bail claiming his continued incarceration breached his human rights but the request was rejected at an Adelaide magistrate’s court this week.

Magistrate Cathy Deland told McGowan’s lawyer, Andrew Culshaw, she could not release his client on bail as she had no authority to do so once the extradition order had been approved.

Mr Culshaw had earlier told the court the Federal Government had been ‘sitting’ on the extradition case.

He said: “There’s a time limit under which the Federal Attorney-General must make a determination about extradition, and that time limit is ‘as soon as practicable’.

“My client consented to being extradited and has spent much of the time since in custody. This matter has really been sat on for months at a time.”

It has been reported that Mr McGowan, who has dual Scottish and Australian nationality, has made several visits to the UK in recent years, including a trip to Scotland in 2012 to see Ryan play for Hearts in the Scottish Cup Final.

At the time, the player said his father had called out of the blue to say he was going to see the game.

He said: “He just found himself sitting at home thinking, ‘This might be the only time I get to see my son in a cup final’.

“Dad wanted me to keep it quiet though, so he could just turn up at Hampden and sit next to my aunts and uncles as if it were the most natural thing in the world.”

An arrest warrant was issued for McGowan, whose other son Dylan, 23, is a defender for Adelaide United, on December 3, 1999, in the days after Mr Brannigan was stabbed to death.

However, McGowan, who is originally from Coatbridge, returned to Australia on the day his warrant was issued.

Detectives from the old Strathclyde Police force followed him to Adelaide but, as a naturalised Australian citizen, the Scot was able to refuse to co-operate with them.

The murder was one of the first to be looked at by the Crown Office’s Cold Case Unit when it was set up in 2011.

In January, Ryan, 25, signed for Dundee United, moving back to Scotland where he had previously played for Hearts after a spell in China.

Police Scotland and the Crown Office said extradition proceedings against McGowan were ongoing.

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