Father loses bid to stop extradition after Costa del Sol bank raids
Deaf father-of-seven, 38, from Liverpool loses High Court bid to stop his extradition to Spain for string of Costa del Sol bank raids after claiming he won’t get fair trial because he can only lip read in Scouse
- Harry Meadows from Merseyside, is wanted over his alleged links to bank raids
- Gang had blown up cash machines on the Costa del Sol between 2013 and 2014
- The 38-year-old father has denied the claims and insisted he is unfit to stand trial
- This is due to he not understanding Spanish legal process because of disability
- But a High Court judge this week has rejected Meadows’ bid to avoid extradition
Harry Meadows from Whitton, Merseyside, is wanted over alleged links to a gang which blew up 14 cash machines on the Costa del Sol between 2013 and 2014
A deaf father of seven who is being extradited to Spain over a string of bank raids has claimed he will not get a fair trial because he can only lip read Scouse.
Harry Meadows from Whitton, Merseyside, is wanted over alleged links to a gang which blew up 14 cash machines on the Costa del Sol between 2013 and 2014.
The 38-year-old has denied the claims and insisted he is unfit to stand trial because he cannot understand the Spanish legal process due to his disability.
His lawyer Benjamin Seifert told the High Court he ‘requires a specialist lip-reader who could pronounce words and shape lips to produce a Liverpool accent – a specialism rare in England and rarer still in Spain’.
But after a hearing this week, High Court judge Sir Duncan Ouseley rejected Meadows’ last-ditch bid to avoid being extradited to Malaga.
Meadows was born deaf, has learning difficulties, cannot read and write effectively or do sign language, the court heard.
He told doctors he can ‘only lip-read those with Liverpool accents’.
The 38-year-old denied the claims and said he is unfit for trial because he cannot understand the Spanish legal process due to his disability. Pictured: CCTV of one of the explosions
His lawyers argued all this means he would struggle to understand the proceedings in a Spanish court and has a limited grasp even of the English legal process.
A clinical psychologist said he would be out of his depth in a Spanish court because ‘lipreading is a difficult and imprecise skill and he is not very good at it’.
She said: ‘Lip pattern is affected by accent and there is individual variation. He appears to lipread his family best, and then people from the same area of the country.’
Meadows has shown himself to be an acute suicide risk, his barrister told the court, having become increasingly depressed while living with the threat of extradition.
On November 8 last year his mother Teresa was contacted by police who told her he faced immediate removal to Spain, said Mr Seifert.
He added: ‘That night he tried to hang himself and has said that he would kill himself before he is extradited.’
A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court gave the go-ahead for Meadows’ extradition in November 2018, but he has been fighting the ruling.
His lawyers failed in an appeal against the decision in July 2019 and the case returned to the High Court this week.
His lawyer Benjamin Seifert told the High Court (file photo) he ‘requires a specialist lip-reader who could pronounce words and shape lips to produce a Liverpool accent – a specialism rare in England and rarer still in Spain’
He tried to launch a fresh appeal based on evidence of his depressed mental state and Spanish authorities’ inability to accommodate his disabilities.
As a ‘vulnerable’ individual he has limited ability to cope independently and relies heavily on his mother, his barrister argued.
Mr Seifert, who noted no charges have been brought, said: ‘There would be a real injustice if he were now surrendered to Spain.’
‘Further evidence has been served to indicate that he is unfit to plead. There is a real and imminent risk of suicide in the context of the extradition of an individual for whom it is not clear when his trial will take place.
‘The Spanish response to all these concerns has been insufficient to allay any fears that these concerns can be mitigated.’
But after half a day in court, the judge turned down his bid.
Richard Evans, for the Government of Spain, had argued all necessary measures would be put in place to accommodate Meadows’ disabilities and depression.
These would including liaising with British police and providing special cards with which he can communicate during the flight to Spain.
There was no evidence Spanish officials had ‘failed to grasp the particular problems which he faces’, said the judge, giving the green light to Meadows’ removal.
He added Meadows could be coached in the use of the cards to understand simple words, and added it would be open to Meadows’ mother to accompany him to Spain.
She would have to ‘say her goodbyes’ when her son reached Spain, he concluded.
An order fixing when extradition must take place will be finalised in the next few days.
Source: Read Full Article