Malcolm Hawkes successfully argues against extradition of fugitive offender to Poland
The High Court has overturned the decision of the Westminster Magistrates Court to extradite a man to Poland to complete his prison sentence and to stand trial on a separate allegation. Represented by Malcolm Hawkes, the Appellant was originally sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for drugs offences committed between 2006-2007 and had served 18 months of that sentence. However, in 2010 he was recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his release but fled to the UK as a fugitive.
The Polish authorities also wished to prosecute him for a separate allegation of theft; he was accused of stealing a bag belonging to an agricultural centre valued at £250, but there was no evidence he was aware of that allegation.
The Polish courts issued a domestic arrest warrant for the prison recall within a year, but did not issue a warrant in respect of the theft matter for over 7 years. There was no explanation for this delay. Meanwhile, the Appellant had travelled to and from Poland from the UK on multiple occasions over the years without any consequence.
The judge accepted the Appellant’s submissions that, even if he should be treated as a fugitive for the drugs offences, he could not be a fugitive in respect of the theft allegation. The court found the district judge to have been wrong to find the Appellant a fugitive in respect of both offences and thereby fell into error in the Article 8 balancing exercise. The district judge was also wrong to speculate, without evidence, that the Appellant had travelled to Poland on false identity documents.
The High Court accepted that the Appellant had turned his life around in the UK, ceased offending and had established a productive life, even if he had no family to speak of in this country. He had served over ¾ of his original sentence and repaid the full value of the goods allegedly stolen. Extradition to Poland in 2018 for low-level offending committed between 2006-2010 would be a disproportionate interference with the Appellant’s right to private and family life, the judge found.
In Strzepa v Poland, Malcolm was instructed by Chloe Hingley of BSB Solicitors