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A notorious paedophile won his appeal against extradition to the US on Thursday.
Shawn Sullivan was reprieved by the same court that ruled Asperger’s sufferer Gary McKinnon should be sent to America despite evidence he may kill himself.
The 43-year-old Sullivan, who was on Interpol’s most-wanted list, is now free to walk the streets without supervision.
High Court judges said a sex offenders programme in Minnesota may have breached his human rights.
On Thursday night Gary’s mother, Janis Sharp, condemned the decision.
“It’s a scandal this man has had his extradition refused by a British court, while my son who has been declared unfit for trial and at extreme risk of suicide by a Home Office-approved expert in assessing risk is still waiting,” she said.
“Ten years have passed waiting for his trauma and torment to come to an end.”
David Bermingham, who was extradited to the US as one of the NatWest Three, said: “This case reveals at its starkest the idiocy of our extradition laws.”
“It is shocking we continue to see a string of extradition cases of ordinary British citizens who have ostensibly none of the human rights that are now being invoked for a heavyweight criminal.’
The UK cannot boot out Sullivan, who is a joint US/Irish citizen, because of his EU citizenship and his marriage to a Briton – a senior Ministry of Justice official he met in jail.
He is wanted by the authorities in Minnesota over claims he raped a 14-year-old girl and molested two 11-year-olds almost two decades ago.
An arrest warrant was issued in 1994 when a woman and her cousin accused him of exposing himself and sexually assaulting them in the city of Eagan.
His 14-year-old alleged victim claims he plied her with alcohol and raped her when she passed out in the back of his car.
Sullivan fled to Ireland where he married.
While his Irish wife was pregnant, he was accused of sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls in Dublin.He pleaded guilty but walked free with only a five-year suspended jail sentence, the Irish authorities being unaware of the US allegations.
Sullivan then used his Irish ancestry to obtain an Irish passport in the name Sean O’Suilleabhain and went on the run around Europe for more than a decade.
In 2007 he was arrested in Switzerland – but not detained – when he used an identity card with the original spelling of his name.The following year, Interpol added him to its most-wanted list and, when he moved to England, he was picked up by the Metropolitan Police Service in June 2010.
He was living in Barnes, South-West London, with Sarah Smith, a 34-year-old Ministry of Justice policy manager.
Since then he has been fighting extradition under a UK-US treaty that usually makes it very hard for any case to be thrown out.
However his lawyers argued that sending him to Minnesota would be unfair because he might be placed on a life-long sex offender programme without even being convicted.
On June 20, Lord Justice Moses and Justice Eady agreed, saying there was a real risk Sullivan would be subjected to an order of civil commitment in “flagrant denial” of his human rights.
Article 5 of the Human Rights Act gives the right to liberty, unless removed by fair legal process.
Lord Justice Moses said a criminal conviction was not necessary for enlistment on the programme – credible evidence of misconduct would do.
Sullivan’s lawyer, Ben Brandon, said no one had been take off Minnesota’s sex offender treatment programme since it was revised in 1988.
The two judges gave the US government a last opportunity to provide an assurance that no commitment order would be made.
No such undertaking has been received and consequently Sullivan’s appeal under the 2003 Extradition Act was allowed on Thursday.
Aaron Watkins, appearing for the US government, had told the court that although Sullivan did not meet the programme’s criteria there was no guarantee he would not be put on it.
Sullivan was on remand in a category A prison in November 2010 when he wed Miss Smith in a civil ceremony witnessed by two prison officers.
A judge later bailed Sullivan with an electronic tag. He will now be freed without any tag, or supervision, and will be required only to go on the sex offenders register.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Court has found in this specific case that the possibility of civil commitment in Minnesota, following any custodial sentence, would breach Mr Sullivan’s human rights.
“The US has declined to provide assurances that he would not be subject to civil commitment. That is a matter for the US.
“This aspect of Mr Sullivan’s appeal was not against the decision of the Secretary of State to sign the extradition order.
“British courts have ruled 46-year-old Gary from North London – wanted by the Americans for hacking into military computers while searching for evidence of ‘little green men” – could be bundled off to America.
His case is under review by Home Secretary Theresa May, who is examining medical evidence about his condition. – Daily Mail