Drugs courier entitled to damages for being detained
A NIGERIAN "drugs courier" jailed after flying into Britain carrying £48,000 (€55,000) worth of cocaine was unlawfully detained and is entitled to damages, a judge ruled yesterday.
Deputy High Court Judge Elisabeth Laing QC concluded that the man's human rights had been breached as a result of him being illegally held in an immigration detention centre after leaving prison.
The deputy judge said the man had suffered from a mental illness and there had been a "deplorable failure" to "recognise the nature and extent" of his problems.
She had ordered his release from detention earlier this month -- following the High Court hearing.
The deputy judge had been told that the man, identified in court as BA, was from Nigeria and had arrived at Gatwick in 2005 holding a "valid student visa". He was arrested and cocaine with an estimated street value of £48,000 (€55,000) was found "hidden in his body".
Six months later, he was given a 10-year jail term after being convicted of a drug trafficking offence. A judge at Isleworth Crown Court concluded that he was a "courier" and said he should be deported after serving his sentence.
In 2007, BA claimed "asylum" saying he did not want to return to Nigeria after leaving prison because his life would be "in danger" as a result of his failure to smuggle drugs into the UK.
A year later, doctors noted that BA was "displaying symptoms of psychosis" and his condition deteriorated.
BA was released from prison in 2010 and transferred to an immigration detention centre after being told that he was "liable to be deported".
Deputy Judge Laing said detention had a "serious effect on BA's mental and physical health". He had refused to eat and drink and the decision to continue holding him "ceased to be reasonable".
Deputy Judge Laing said BA had been unlawfully held in a detention centre between June and October 2011 and said the amount of damages he was entitled to should be assessed.