Convicted sex offender wins legal deportation battle to stay in Northern Ireland
A convicted sex offender facing deportation has won a legal battle in his wider campaign to remain with his family in Northern Ireland.
A High Court judge in Belfast quashed decisions to remove the 43-year-old Czech Republic national from the UK and deny him temporary readmission for an imminent appeal against his expulsion.
The man at the centre of the case, a father-of-four, has an extensive criminal record spanning three jurisdictions.
Offences committed during 10 years spent in the Republic of Ireland include arson endangering life, burglary, threats to kill, theft, sexual activity with a child under 16, assault and possession of drugs.
The man, granted anonymity to protect his children, lived in Tralee and Drogheda before Irish authorities first ordered his deportation.
He has moved with his family to Co Fermanagh within the last two years. Since arriving in the UK, he has twice been convicted of driving with no insurance.
A failure to comply with a monitoring regime imposed due to his sexual conviction was also recorded.
In February this year the Home Office decided he should be deported due to his criminality.
The man had argued that forcing him to return to the Czech Republic would remove him from his entire family network.
At the time he travelled to Slovakia to see a friend, unaware the order had been made.
On his return to Stanstead Airport he was refused re-entry and sent back on a flight to Bratislava.
With his partner and family still in Co Fermanagh, the man is due to appeal the deportation under the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 at a hearing in Belfast on July 21. But he was also denied temporary re-admission to attend that tribunal.
Judicial review challenges were mounted against that refusal and the earlier block on UK entry at the airport.
Counsel for the Home Secretary argued that the decision not to admit and remove was justified on grounds of public policy and public security.
However, Mr Justice Maguire held there was nothing in relevant documents referring to the man's family situation.
He also identified no reference to requirements in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 for the decision maker to take into account the need to safeguard the welfare of children in the UK.
Finding the Act was not complied with, the judge said: "For this reason the court will quash both the decision not to admit and the consequential decision to remove the applicant back to Slovokia."
He recognised the Secretary of State could reach the same conclusion in similar circumstances, but any reconsideration would only be lawful if the identified failures were rectified.
Quashing the later refusal of temporary re-admission for the appeal hearing, Mr Justice Maguire added: "The court sees no recognition in the decision letter of the fact that in law the presumption is in favour of the granting of an application of this type."
Expressing concern at the "confusion" of Home Office officials about the legalities of the case when the man arrived at Stanstead Airport, the judge called for a speedy reconsideration of the issues.
An order for costs of the legal challenge was made against the Department.