European arrest warrant – Respondent judicial authority issuing warrant

Nikitins v Presecutor General's Office, Republic of Latvia: Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court (London) (Mr Justice Ouseley): 25 July 2012

The appellant came to the UK in 2009 with his then partner, now wife. In October 2011, the respondent judicial authority issued a European arrest warrant (the warrant) seeking the extradition of the appellant to Latvia to face allegations of attempted theft of four radiators from an unoccupied apartment. Subsequently, a district judge ordered the appellant's extradition. Following that decision, the appellant was remanded into custody pending his removal. The appellant was detained for two months before being released on bail.

One of the main factors behind the appellant's release on bail was the deterioration in the mental state of his heavily pregnant wife to the extent that social services advised that she might not be competent to care for the child upon its birth. Prior to the instant proceedings, the appellant obtained psychiatric evidence. A forensic psychiatrist, Dr H, provided a report which stated, inter alia, that the appellant's wife had several serious mental disorders relating to eating, mood and psychoactive drug dependency.

Further, Dr H submitted, inter alia, that the appellant's wife's mental disorders were likely to be effected by stressful life events associated with the appellant's extradition, including increased demands of childcare as a lone parent and that in a worse-case scenario she could relapse into a depressed suicidal state. Furthermore, Dr H claimed, inter alia, that should her mental disorders escalate to the degree that they had in the past, there were several different potential scenarios that could plausibly occur which would require immediate use of emergency child protection procedures to safeguard their daughter. The appellant appealed against the decision to extradite him.

He contended that his extradition would be disproportionate in relation to the offence because of the impact which his extradition would have on his wife because of her fragile mental health, and through that on her ability realistically to care for the child during the period when he would be away. Consideration was given to article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The appeal would be allowed.

There was clearly a real risk that the appellant would not be on bail in Latvia and there was clearly a real risk that, justified objectively or not, the appellant's wife would feel that she should not return to Latvia, the location of much of her misery. Evidence of the psychiatrist demonstrated that if the appellant was extradited, the wife would suffer severe psychiatric disorders to the extent that she could not look after her child, who would be taken into care.

Thus, although the appellant was not the primary carer, there was a real risk of a very severe disruption to the life of the wife and, more importantly, through the disruption to her position as mother, to the life and wellbeing of the very young child who needed her mother. This was one of those rare cases where extradition would be disproportionate (see [12], [13], [14] of the judgment).

The appeal would be allowed and the warrant would be discharged (see [14] of the judgment).

A v Republic of Croatia [2010] All ER (D) 235 (Mar) considered; HH v Deputy Prosecutor of the Italian Republic, Genoa; PH v Deputy Prosecutor of the Italian Republic, Genoa; F-K (FC) v Polish Judicial Authority [2012] All ER (D) 130 (Jun) considered.