Hungarian extradition appeal allowed: de minimis drug offences outweighed by Appellant’s right to family life

Malcolm Hawkes acted in a successful High Court appeal against extradition on behalf of a Hungarian man who was originally wanted to serve over 10 years imprisonment for various drugs offences and one offence of assault.

The Hungarian authorities had issued two extradition warrants; both warrants alleged the possession and consumption of various types of the drug, Fubinaca, referred to as ‘spice’ or synthetic cannabis in the UK. The first warrant was for possession of 26g of synthetic cannabis, and 0.8g of cannabis which contained just 0.002g of THC, the active ingredient in that drug. For these offences, he had been sentenced to 8 years imprisonment.

The second warrant also contained offences of possession of 13g of ‘spice’ and two offences of possession of 0.5g of cannabis cigarettes, each containing just 0.001g of THC. For these offences, he had been sentenced to 22 months imprisonment.

Separately, the man was wanted to serve an activated suspended sentence of 8 months for an assault committed in 2013.

All of the synthetic cannabis offences were struck out, together with the 0.002g of THC possession offence at the magistrates court; synthetic cannabis was not unlawful in the UK at the time the appellant had it in his possession.

This reduced the extradition request to seeking the man’s extradition for possession of two cigarettes, each containing 0.001g of THC and to serve 8 months for the assault.

However, the appellant had spent over 7 months in custody while contesting these proceedings which must be deducted from his sentence and had just under 3 weeks remaining.

In all of the circumstances, the court agreed that these tiny quantities of the drug and the very short period remaining to be served meant that his extradition would now constitute a clearly disproportionate interference with his and his family’s right to private and family life and allowed the appeal.

In Buttinger v Hungary, Malcolm was instructed by Isobel Cattrall and Rita Patel of Thompson & Co Solicitors.