Jamaican drug dealer who escaped deportation after human rights claim set to be released on bail

A Jamaican drug dealer whose deportation was halted at the 11th hour last year on human rights grounds is set to be freed on bail after a High Court ruled in his favour.

High Court judge Timothy Corner said the continued detention of the unnamed Jamaican man was worsening his mental ill health and that he should be released because it was unclear when the Home Office would remove him.

The man, who cannot be identified, was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in jail for dealing class A drugs in November 2016 and subsequently told by the Home Office that it was going to deport him to Jamaica.

He was released from prison in August 2019 and returned to live with his partner and children, but was detained in January last year pending his planned removal from the UK the following month.

He was one of around 30 people who were due to be on a charter flight to Jamaica last February, whose deportation was blocked following a last-minute legal battle between the Government and human rights campaigners.

The court was told his claim that he "feared ill-treatment in Jamaica" prevented his removal from the UK and that deportation would "increase his risk of self-harm and suicide".

The man was released from immigration detention on conditional bail in April but was detained again in November, meaning he had to spend Christmas separated from his family.

While in detention, the man – who first came to the UK in 2002 – told doctors that he had been kidnapped and "shot in the head by a gang" in Jamaica in 2001 and also claimed he had been raped in prison in 2016.

His lawyers applied to the High Court for him to be released on bail, arguing that he was suffering from "severe" depression and PTSD which was being made worse in detention.

In a ruling published on Thursday, Judge Timothy Corner QC said "the timescale for removal of the claimant would still be highly uncertain" even if he did not take into account the new claim brought by him.

The judge added that "his mental health is very seriously impaired and detention is making it worse".

He noted that the Home Office’s lawyers had said that "the charter flight which would take the claimant back to Jamaica, if booked, would be in March".

But the judge added: "I am very concerned that there was no actual evidence before me from the Secretary of State as to whether a charter flight even in March is a realistic prospect. Certainly, I do not think there is a realistic prospect of removal very soon."

He continued: "It is also appropriate to consider the claimant’s mental health … the seriousness of his condition has been accepted by the defendant. He clearly suffers from serious depression with a risk of suicide."

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