Colombian blackmailer wins damages

Braintree and Witham Times: A convicted Colombian has won damages at the High Court A convicted Colombian has won damages at the High Court

A Colombian national certified as a danger to the public and convicted of crimes including blackmail, kidnapping and assault causing bodily harm has won damages which could run into thousands of pounds.

A deputy High Court judge ruled today that Isaias Gaviria-Manrique, who was eventually deported after committing a further crime of burglary, is entitled to a "more than nominal sum" against the Home Secretary.

The judge ruled that, under human rights laws, the award was necessary to compensate him for a "procedural flaw" that led to him being unlawfully detained for a period in 2008.

Judge Sycamore described how the 35-year-old was jailed for five years at the Old Bailey in April 2003 for kidnapping and blackmail and recommended for deportation.

An initial deportation order was signed in July 2005, but two months later he began a legal battle to remain in the UK on human rights grounds.

He had first arrived in the UK in May 1999 and and made an unsuccessful application for asylum.

He was detained under immigration rules in November 2005, but released on bail in September 2006. His then partner gave birth to a child in September 2007.

In August 2007 he had been told the Home Secretary was proposing to certify him for deportation as "a danger to the UK community" under the Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 2012.

But the procedural flaw meant there was a failure to serve on him a valid "appealable" notice related to the deportation decision.

Gaviria-Manrique was physically detained on January 21 2008 and removal directions served on him at the same time.

He continued his legal battle against removal by instructing a new solicitor, who unsuccessfully applied for time to lodge an appeal outside the normal deadline for lodging appeals.

But a judge then ordered a stay on his removal so that he could take further legal action after he said there had been an error in the lodging of his appeal papers.

He was eventually released from detention on March 18 2008 after his solicitor filed a fresh appeal against deportation with the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal (AIT).

Two months later he was detained again and charged with assault occasioning bodily harm on his former partner. He pleaded guilty at Blackfriars Crown Court, London, in August 2008 and was jailed for six months.

He was released from criminal custody as he had served his sentence on remand, but transferred to Wandsworth Prison under immigration detention laws and then sent to an immigration centre.

Released yet again on bail by the AIT in September 2008, his appeal against removal was successful in January 2009 on human rights grounds, to the extent that his asylum claim had to be reconsidered, taking account of his Article 8 right under the European Convention on Human Rights to respect for his private and family life.

However the Colombian was then convicted of an offence of burglary, and a further decision to deport him was taken. His appeal against that decision was unsuccessful, and he was removed from the UK on February 19 2013.

Today Judge Sycamore ruled that Gaviria-Manrique was entitled to damages for his period of detention between January 21 and March 18 2008 because of the failure at the time to serve on him an appealable decision "in clear terms in a single document" with regard to moves to deport him.

The judge said: "Had the notice of decision been correctly served at the appropriate time, and had the claimant exercised his right of appeal then, absent the prospect of imminent removal, it cannot be said the secretary of state would have detained the claimant in those circumstances.

"In my judgment, for the reasons which I have given, the detention of the claimant was unlawful for the whole of the period from January 21 2008 to March 18 2008."

The judge directed that the amount of damages should be assessed by a High Court official if it could not be agreed between the parties.

The judge rejected Gaviria-Manrique's claim that he was also entitled to damages for the period August 27-September 17 2008.

By that time a different detention policy applied, said the judge.

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