Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Court delays ruling on paedophile

American paedophile Shawn Sullivan is hoping to avoid extradition to the US

The High Court has reserved judgment on a human rights bid by an American paedophile to block being returned to the US where he is wanted for allegedly abusing three girls in the mid-Nineties.

Lawyers for fugitive Shawn Sullivan, 43, said he could face detention with no hope of release under a controversial US sex offenders' treatment programme. No-one on the programme has yet been released, said counsel for Sullivan, who has been described as one of the US's most wanted alleged sex criminals.

Two judges were asked in a day-long hearing by Sullivan, who has joint Irish-US nationality, to block the Home Secretary's decision in February last year to order his extradition to Minnesota. They will give their ruling at a later date.

Sullivan is also seeking to overturn a decision of district judge Howard Riddle at Westminster magistrates' court in December 2010 that there was no legal reason why extradition should not go ahead.

Sullivan is accused of raping a 14-year-old girl and sexually molesting two 11-year-olds in Minnesota between 1993 and 1994. He left the US as prosecutors filed charges against him and was later found to be living in Ireland. He then came to London using an Irish passport with his name spelt in Gaelic as "O'Suilleabhain".

While living in Ireland he was convicted of sexually assaulting two 12-year-old girls and given a suspended sentence. He was arrested in London in June 2010 whilst living with Ministry of Justice policy manager Sarah Smith, 34, in Barnes, south-west London. They married while he was held at Wandsworth Prison, before he was granted bail.

His counsel Ben Brandon argued that the extradition decision could not stand because of a failure to properly consider that Sullivan was at risk of being subjected to a legal process known as "civil commitment" that violated human rights.

Mr Brandon said civil commitment involved people declared "sexually dangerous" to be confined indefinitely for treatment in secure facilities operated by the Department of Human Services in Minnesota.

Commitment usually followed a person completing a prison sentence but a conviction was not necessary for it to be imposed, argued Mr Brandon. He told Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Eady: "Minnesota has never released a 'sex offender' committed to indeterminate detention since the program began in its current form in 1988."

It was a process alien to the European justice system and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. Aaron Watkins, appearing for the US government, told the court that Sullivan did not satisfy the criteria for commitment.

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