Extradition warrant for crimes in homeland overridden for 'transformed' Pole
A fugitive from Poland who came to the UK and "transformed" his life has won a High Court battle against extradition for old criminal offences.
Polish judicial authorities issued European arrest warrants for the return of Karol Cieczka, 29, who has lived in England for seven years, first in Mildenhall and then Ipswich.
He is wanted by the regional court in Lublin to finish serving jail sentences imposed for offences committed when aged 17 and 18.
But Mr Justice Mitting, sitting in London, has blocked an extradition order made at Westminster Magistrates Court in May after hearing there was an unexplained six-year delay before the warrants were certified.
The judge said Cieczka was "a young man with an unfortunate background" who had put the past behind him after coming to the UK.
He had worked hard, established a relationship with a young woman who had a child by him and lived "a useful and blameless life".
The couple were no longer living together, "nevertheless he can say with justification he has transformed his life", said the judge.
He now wanted to stay in the UK and earn for his son.
Cieczka was sentenced for a series of offences, including repeated attempts to rob the same individual and burglary.
He was in custody for several months but then released on certain conditions, including having to inform the authorities of any change of address.
He failed to comply and was later traced to the UK. He still has one year and eight months to serve for the robbery offences and some four months for burglary.
The Polish authorities told the National Crime Agency in 2009 of their belief that he was in the UK but there was a six-year delay before the warrants were certified.
No explanation had been given why.
Discharging Cieczka, the judge said: "This is a case which cried out for an explanation of the delay."
The central issue in the case was whether extradition would be incompatible with Cieczka's right to a family and private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The judge said Ciecka's rights had.to be weighed in the balance against the need to honour extradition arrangements with other countries.
He ruled the delay in seeking his return and the lack of any explanation for it, was enough to tip the balance in favour of allowing Cieczka's appeal against extradition.