Budzik v Regional Court Tarnow (Poland) [2015] EWHC 2856 (Admin)

On 12 October 2015, the Administrative Court dismissed the appeal against the order for extradition, against Grzegorz Budzik, from the United Kingdom to Poland, pursuant to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW), to serve a sentence of one year and two months’ imprisonment for fraud offences.

The Administrative Court held that there was no basis for the submission that it was extremely unlikely that the care that Mr Budzik’s wife and daughter needed would be made available in Poland, resulting in the likelihood that their daughter would be placed in foster care in the UK.

Moreover, it was held that District Judge Grant had not been wrong to conclude that extradition had been proportionate under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The judgment is here.

Facts

It is alleged that, between 24 April 2010 and 13 May 2010, Mr Budzik obtained fuel by presenting counterfeit bank transfer receipts by misleading the vendor as to his intention to pay, causing total losses of approximately £10,285.20. On 28 December 2015, Mr Budzik was convicted by the District Court in Tarnow, in Poland, of a number of fraud offences. A sentence of one year and two months’ imprisonment was conditionally suspended, but activated because Mr Budzik had failed to pay compensation to the victim.

District Judge Grant, 22 May 2015

The sole issue in dispute before District Judge Grant, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, was whether the extradition of Mr Budzik would infringe his rights under Article 8 ECHR, as well as the rights of his daughter, and his wife (who suffers from multiple sclerosis).

Mr Budzik’s extradition to Poland was ordered and he appealed, his lawyer contending that, in particular:

  • It was extremely unlikely that Mr Budzik’s wife would be able to care for herself or their daughter if he was extradited.
  • The likelihood is that their daughter would be placed in social services care, and that his wife would lose custody of the child.
  • That extradition would affect Mr Budzik’s wife’s right of residence in the UK and by extension, her access to healthcare free of charge through the NHS.

Mr Budzik’s lawyer further submitted that District Judge Grant erred in finding that he was a fugitive when he left Poland, within two months of the original sentence being imposed. Leave to appeal was granted by Ouseley J.

Administrative Court, 12 October 2015

Mr Justice Supperstone, sitting at the Administrative Court, held:

  • That there was no basis for Mr Budzik’s contention that it is extremely unlikely that the care for Mr Budzik’s wife would be made available in Poland and that, therefore, their daughter would be placed in care.
  • There was no evidence for the inference that, where his family circumstances are known to the local authority, this invites the inference that the local authority will deal with the situation that will arise after Mr Budzik’s extradition by removing their daughter from her mother, absent any evidence.

On the finding that Mr Budzik is a fugitive, it is not settled law that a person only becomes a fugitive when a suspended sentence is activated. Salbut applied. The phrase “unlawfully at large” was capable of applying from the moment that the conditions of such a sentence are breached, and Mr Budzik was aware that when he left Poland, he had to pay compensation (which he failed to do).

In any event, whether or not Mr Budzik is a fugitive seems unlikely to matter since he knew that he was not complying with the conditions of the suspended sentence, and left Poland knowing that he would be imprisoned if he stayed.

Moreover, in conducting the proportionality balancing exercise under Article 8 ECHR, applying Celinski, District Judge Grant had concluded that extradition was proportionate. Mr Justice Supperstone was not persuaded that this was the wrong decision, noting that District Judge Grant had acknowledged the “drastic” effect of an extradition order, and had stated that he had “considerable sympathy” for Mr Budzik and his immediate family.

Appeal dismissed.

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