Maria* (not her real name) approached National Legal Service earlier this year to help her appeal against extradition to Portugal (her country of birth).
The extradition order was due to a request to service a custodial sentence of four years for an offence committed almost two decades ago. Maria was convicted despite her absence from court.
Her story begins as a young woman living in Portugal, where her mother fell ill around the same time that she realised she was pregnant with her first child.
Through desperation, Maria became involved with people who would use her as a decoy to commit armed robberies. After the second robbery, she was arrested and convicted for the crime. She served a five-year sentence for her role in the robbery.
As she had been found guilty for only playing a part in one of the robberies, Maria emigrated to the UK upon her release from prison in order to find a steadier source of income to provide for her daughter.
About six months into her stay in the UK and unbeknownst to her, Maria was tried and convicted of the second offence, with a four-year prison sentence mandated.
Having never been notified of the conviction, Maria has since made a life for herself in the UK. She has four children, each of whom has been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum, Maria is their sole carer.
She successfully applied for British citizenship but, 20 years on from the original offence, a European Arrest Warrant was issued. The Portuguese authorities had made little attempt to track her down prior to this.
Given the extenuating circumstances around our client’s case, our Extradition experts Noam Almaz and Shyan MacTavish instructed a child psychologist to assess all four children, providing a comprehensive report to the courts that highlighted the detrimental impact extradition would have on the children, as well as the effect it would have on her eldest daughter who was due to go to university.
Based on our strong collation of evidence and statements from Maria and her eldest daughter, the judge confirmed that extradition would be a disproportionate interference to their lives in the UK.
Maria has been able to continue living in the UK with her children and has plans to go to college part-time whilst the children attend school.