Malcolm Hawkes acts for client as failure to prosecute in 2014 renders extradition disproportionate
The High Court has allowed the appeal against extradition of a Polish man, convicted of drugs offences committed in 2008 on the grounds of delay, proportionality and his right to private and family life. The Appellant was wanted to serve a 2-year, 2-month sentence for two offences: the supply of 19 grammes of amphetamines; and simple possession of MDMA, amphetamine and cannabis.
Represented by Malcolm Hawkes, the Appellant had in fact already been extradited from the UK to Poland in 2014 for the same offences but before his conviction; that warrant was also issue to secure his return to serve a 2 year sentence for other matters. However, despite being in Polish custody, the authorities failed to prosecute him at all for the accusation matters. The Appellant was even released from prison early and granted permission by the court to move back to the UK in 2015. Even so, his trial didn’t take place, in his absence, until March 2017.
The Polish authorities offered no explanation as to why they failed to prosecute the Appellant while he was in their custody, why they permitted him to return to the UK and why his conviction and appeal process took so long to conclude.
Since moving to the UK in 2008, the Appellant had completely reformed: he has committed no further offences, has set-up his own business and is fully settled in this country with his wife and son.
The High Court held that the district judge fell into a series of significant errors in her judgment, by over-stating the gravity of the conduct. She called the offences ‘extremely serious’ when it was clear the conduct was lower on the scale. The district judge also was wrong to find that his son, who was badly affected by his father’s extradition in 2014 when aged 4, would somehow be better able to cope with the trauma of separation a second time at the age of 9; the cumulative effect of the repeated, traumatic separation of a child from its parents would mean that each separation causes more harm than the last. Finally, the judge wrongly ascribed the blame for all of the delay to the Appellant, when he could not be blamed for the delay from 2014-to date
In a case which he described as ‘finely balanced’, Mr. Justice Holman concluded that the Article 8 rights of the Appellant, his wife and their son outweighed any public and international interest in his extradition in 2019 for such historic conduct.