‘This Has Been Pure Hell’: UK Man To Be Extradited To US After 14-Years Of Appeals

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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The U.K. will finally extradite an alleged murderer to the U.S. after the European Court of Human Rights dismissed his extradition challenge Monday, ending a 14-year chain of appeals.

Phillip Harkins is wanted for the 1999 Florida murder of Joshua Hayes, who was shot in the head during a robbery. Harkins was arrested and indicted for the crime, but escaped to Scotland in 2002 after being released on bail, prompting the US to request his extradition in 2003, the Guardian reported Monday.

Harkins was jailed soon after his return to the U.K., following a reckless driving conviction in a 2002 crash, which killed a 62-year-old British woman.

Throughout his 14 years of appeals, he continued to deny his involvement in the Florida robbery, claiming his extradition would violate the European convention on human rights. As is common practice with U.K. to U.S. extradition cases, the U.S. promised not to give Harkins the death penalty if convicted.

Instead, Harkins faces a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted in Florida. Nevertheless, Harkins claimed a life sentence was both “cruel and degrading,” but the European court’s Monday ruling declared it was neither, The BBC reported.

“This has been pure hell – honestly, it’s been a fighting battle,” Hayes’ mother, Patricia Gallagher told the BBC. “We just want to get him back for justice. He should never have been over there – he should have been here.”

Harkins lost all of his challenges in the U.K. and both of his appeals to the human rights court. The European court first dismissed his case in 2012, but he was allowed a second appeal in 2015 only for it to be dismissed again Monday.

“I really don’t understand how he was ever allowed that many appeals,” Gallagher said. “That’s way too many. He says that he’s a victim, but he is not.”

Gallagher said she’ll only believe he’s actually being extradited the day he leaves Scotland.

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