Grigelevicius v Prosecutor General’s Office Republic of Lithuania [2015] EWHC 1828 (Admin)

2000px-Flag_of_Lithuania_svgOn 30 June 2015, the High Court dismissed the appeal made by Justas Grigelevicius, against his extradition to Lithuania from the United Kingdom, in relation to an allegation of supplying cannabis to another.

The Court upheld the District Judge’s finding that Mr Grigelevicius had tried to pervert the course of justice, by supplying a false name to police in relation to an unrelated offence in the UK, and that his extradition was not a violation of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and/or disproportionate under section 21A(3) of the Extradition Act 2003 (EA 2003). The judgment is here.

Background

On 31 March 2010, it is alleged that Mr Grigelevicius bought 0.38 grams of cannabis in the town of Vilinius, Lithuania, and travelled by train to another town, where he sold the cannabis for a sum equivalent to approximately £7.50. On 23 June 2010, Mr Grigelevicius allegedly admitted the offence to police.

In August 2010, Mr Grigelevicius travelled to the UK. This was in breach of a written commitment not to leave his residence in Lithuania without permission of the court or police.

On 9 July 2013, the Prosecutor General’s Office, in Lithuania, issued an ‘accusation’ European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for Mr Grigelevicius’ arrest. On 14 November 2014, he was arrested by UK police. Mr Grigelevicius denies the offence.

In 2013, whilst in the UK, Mr Grigelevicius was convicted of an unrelated offence of being drunk in a public place. When he was arrested for that offence, he provided a false name, which he corrected at a later point when he was sober. He contends that his act of providing an incorrect name was the product of his intoxication.

On 13 February 2013, District Judge Snow, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, ordered Mr Grigelevicius’ extradition to Lithuania. Mr Grigelevicius appealed, against the Judge’s findings of fact, and primarily his finding that he had perverted the course of justice in relation to the drunkenness offence. He further contended that the Judge’s finding that the minimum sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment upon conviction in Lithuania for the alleged drugs offence was not offensive to UK courts, was wrong.

On 30 June 2015, Mr Justice Holroyd, held:

 Article 8 ECHR

  • The District Judge’s finding of fact cannot be criticised. Miraszewski; Norris; HH; and Celinski applied.
  • By providing a false name to police officers in relation to the drunkenness offence, the Judge was entitled to conclude that Mr Grigelevicius had tried to pervert the course of justice in the UK, by evading discovery of his prosecution in Lithuania. The Judge gave due weight to that finding.
  • Although the Judge failed to identify the fact that Mr Grigelevicius had already spent 7 days in custody in the UK, this did not undermine his overall conclusion. Mr Grigelevicius had led a largely law-abiding life in the UK. However, he was a fugitive. The focus must be on whether the Judge’s decision was wrong: Celinski.

Article 8 ECHR and s.21A(3) EA 2003

  • It cannot be said that extradition would not be compatible with Article 8 ECHR and/or disproportionate, merely because a comparable offence in the UK would not result in a custodial sentence. Each member state may set its own sentencing regime and levels of sentence, applying Celinski.
  • S. 21A(3) EA 2003 requires the Judge to consider (a) the seriousness of the alleged conduct and (b) the likely penalty if convicted in Lithuania. With respect to part (a), the Judge correctly identified that the culpability of the alleged conduct was high, because of the travel involved in selling the cannabis. However, the harm was low, because the quantity of drugs was small and due to the absence of a commercial element. Polczynski v Poland [2013] EWHC 4059 (Admin); and Miraszewski applied. With respect to part (b), extradition is not disproportionate because the likely penalty in Lithuania will be minor. Miglans v Prosecutor General of the Republic of Latvia [2014] EWHC 2659 (Admin) distinguished (in that case, a much heavier minimum sentence for simple possession was imposed).
  • Cases in which a particular penalty would be offensive to the domestic court would be “extremely rare”; Miraszewski applied. This was not such a case.

Appeal dismissed.

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