An Edinburgh sheriff has refused to order the extradition of a Polish man who was wanted in Poland to serve a six month custodial sentence. The man was wanted for mercantile fraud. However, the sheriff refused the order on the basis that it would have a disproportionate impact upon his family. 
The proceedings were raised by the Lord Advocate on behalf of the Republic of Poland. The defender, RM, had been resident in the Lanarkshire area for 11 years with his spouse and five children. It was argued on his behalf that his extradition would be unjust and oppressive. 
The court heard that whilst in Poland, between 2007-2010, the defender had a small bathroom installation business. It was alleged he had taken goods on credit from a builder’s merchant without paying for them, whilst he was running the business. This was denied. It was argued that given the passage of time extradition would be unjust or oppressive. Further to this, his extradition would be incompatible with his rights under article 6 and 8 of the ECHR and also the article 8 rights of his family, who would have to move back to Poland if he was extradited.
It was heard that his younger children did not speak Polish and were dependent on his income. 
In giving the opinion of the court, Sheriff Welsh stated: “RM took the risk that these proceedings might come back to haunt him. Accordingly, the passage of time has no purchase in his favour, as he himself created the delay by leaving the Polish jurisdiction when he knew proceedings were extant. Further, I did not consider, nor was it suggested, that there was anything exceptional in the circumstances of this case, which would permit a fugitive not to be extradited.”
In considering article 8 of the ECHR, he stated: “It is not easy to avoid extradition on this ground. I took account of the strong and weighty public interest in favour of extradition, so that the UK, is seen to fulfil its international obligations and to prevent criminals achieving safe haven in this jurisdiction.”
He continued: “The combination of factors here, especially, when examined against the level of sentence likely to be served and the potential for family fracture, marriage breakdown and the consequences for the dependent school children, if separated from their father, or the damage to their education, if instead, they are relocated to Poland, struck me as, not just an unfortunate but inevitable necessary consequence of the enforcement of a legitimate public interest but rather, this extradition, if granted, crossed a line and became a disproportionate infringement of the dependents right to a family life, with father and spouse.”
As a result, the defender was discharged. However, the sheriff noted that if the sentence to be served was materially higher then a different conclusion would have been reached.