UK cop returned to Antigua on sex crime charge

Tomorrow, the U.K. policeman who allegedly raped a university student in Antigua will be heading to court before a magistrate in Antigua following his successful extradition late yesterday. He arrived on a British Airways flight from London local authorities confirmed to OBSERVER media, and was taken to the former U.S. Naval Air Station which has been declared a detention centre.

The 25-year-old Scotland Yard cop, who cannot be named since the Sexual Offences Act restricts this, allegedly raped the 19-year-old complainant in May 2015 after befriending her and allegedly spiking her drink.

At the time, the cop was vacationing in Antigua, and by the time the police went looking for him after the young woman made a report, he had already flown out of Antigua, back to his homeland.

It was just over two weeks ago that the British Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, decided to issue the order for him to be sent to Antigua for criminal proceedings for the offence which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

It’s the first time the twin island has sought and obtained an extradition order from the English Court. Antigua and Barbuda started pursuing the cop’s extradition in 2016, but he tried to block it by raising issues about the prison conditions here.

And, the court agreed then, saying it was not satisfied with the conditions at the prison in Antigua and Barbuda, having found that both remand and convicted inmates were subjected to “inhumane and degrading” standards.

He had supported his argument against extradition with evidence submitted by a private investigator who exposed to the U.K. court, details about the small size of cells which allow inmates only two square metres of personal space; the food which was described as “awful,” as well as a lack of fresh drinking water.

It was argued that cells were built to hold four people, but sometimes were accommodating up to 12 people, forcing inmates to sleep in shifts.

Two buckets, which do not have covers, are kept in the cells for the inmates to use to urinate or defecate. And, the cells, which are 12 square feet in size, have little to no ventilation.

The accused man’s lawyer contended that those conditions violated Article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, therefore he should not be subjected to return since there was no guarantee he would not go there if he is not granted bail or cannot afford bail, or if he’s convicted in Antigua.

The court concluded that it could not order his extradition because of the combination of overcrowding and “dreadful sanitary arrangements and also the fact that remand prisonerss are in their cells for 19 to 20 hours a day,” with not much to do.

The court said that even though there are laws that would allow for the accused to be transferred to a U.K. prison facility to serve his time if he is convicted, there was no definite answer as to when the transfer would take place, which could mean he would have to spend days or months in Antigua’s jail.

But local authorities did not give up and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Anthony Armstrong, filed a second request last year and succeeded on that occasion. However, it was only after the superintendent of prison provided a written assurance to a U.K. Senior District judge (Chief Magistrate) that the accused would not be remanded at Her Majesty’s Prison here.

The promise is that he would be held at the former Naval Air Station in Antigua. Not only does it have enough room, but there would be access to books, magazines, board games, phone calls, radio, newspapers and television, and any other means of occupation “which are not of an objectionable kind.”

He’d also be able to engage in activities such as soccer, cricket, and have access to a fully functional indoor gym and a fully fenced basketball court.

Additionally, the accused would be fed three meals a day and be allowed visits on any day of the week between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The authorities promised that the accused cop would not be held in solitary confinement.

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