Costa del Sol deaf cash point blagger with be extradited to Spain says High Court
A deaf father of seven who is being extradited to Spain over a string of bank raids has claimed he will not get a fair trial because he can only lip read Scouse.
Harry Meadows from Whitton, Merseyside, is wanted over alleged links to a gang which blew up 14 cash machines on the Costa del Sol between 2013 and 2014.
The 38-year-old has denied the claims and insisted he is unfit to stand trial because he cannot understand the Spanish legal process due to his disability.
His lawyer Benjamin Seifert told the High Court he ‘requires a specialist lip-reader who could pronounce words and shape lips to produce a Liverpool accent – a specialism rare in England and rarer still in Spain’.
But after a hearing this week, High Court judge Sir Duncan Ouseley rejected Meadows’ last-ditch bid to avoid being extradited to Malaga.
Meadows was born deaf, has learning difficulties, cannot read and write effectively or do sign language, the court heard.
He told doctors he can ‘only lip-read those with Liverpool accents’.
His lawyers argued all this means he would struggle to understand the proceedings in a Spanish court and has a limited grasp even of the English legal process.
A clinical psychologist said he would be out of his depth in a Spanish court because ‘lipreading is a difficult and imprecise skill and he is not very good at it’.
She said: ‘Lip pattern is affected by accent and there is individual variation. He appears to lipread his family best, and then people from the same area of the country.’
Meadows has shown himself to be an acute suicide risk, his barrister told the court, having become increasingly depressed while living with the threat of extradition.
On November 8 last year his mother Teresa was contacted by police who told her he faced immediate removal to Spain, said Mr Seifert.
He added: ‘That night he tried to hang himself and has said that he would kill himself before he is extradited.’
A judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court gave the go-ahead for Meadows’ extradition in November 2018, but he has been fighting the ruling.
His lawyers failed in an appeal against the decision in July 2019 and the case returned to the High Court this week.
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