Grave robber reprieved: extradition appeal allowed due to wholesale failures

The Hon Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing has allowed the appeal against extradition of a man, represented by Malcolm Hawkes, who was wanted to serve a prison sentence for robbing graves and memorials in Poland. Convicted of committing 25 offences, valued at over £10,000, the Appellant had received a suspended 18-month prison sentence in Poland but breached it and then fled the country.

In its extradition request, the Polish judicial authorities failed to provide the necessary details of the conduct, such as the location, victims or the value of each of the 25 offences; only 7 offences had some, but not all of the necessary details. The crimes, said to have been committed over a 12-month period, were dealt with in the Polish courts as a single offence, attracting a single prison sentence and a global value. The judge agreed that the district judge was wrong to consider that a prosecution in England and Wales would have condensed 25 offences of theft into a single count indictment as justification for the omission of essential information in respect of each offence.

Even if 18 of the unparticularised offences were struck-out of the warrant, the judge held that it was impossible to rule out the risk the Appellant have to serve the entirety of the 18-month sentence. Moreover, she agreed that the Appellant would be unable to avail himself of specialty protection, which otherwise prevents states from dealing with extraditees for conduct not contained in the extradition request.

The appeal judge concluded that the omission of such basic, yet mandatory information in the warrant rendered the request incurably deficient; it amounted to a wholesale, and incurable failure to comply with the minimum requirements of the European Arrest Warrant scheme.

In Tartakowski v Poland, Malcolm was instructed by Noam Almaz of National Legal Service solicitors.