Brexit transition timing helps Dutch drug dealer avoid deportation

A convicted Dutch drug dealer has avoided deportation because he was found to have come into possession of class A drugs just hours before the Brexit transition period ended, allowing him to be protected by EU law.

Adnan Jama, 28, who had a string of convictions for drug offences, was arrested on New Year’s Day 2021 for possession with intent to supply class A drugs. He was later jailed for five years and seven months.

The Home Office sought to deport Jama, who claimed to have come to Britain aged six, to the Netherlands, but he said this would breach his free movement rights and human rights. Last May an immigration judge ruled in his favour.

The Home Office has now lost its appeal over the decision.

Jama was arrested early on New Year’s Day 2021, but an immigration judge ruled he came into possession of the drugs several hours before 11pm on Dec 31 2020, when the Brexit transition period ended. The new post-Brexit rules began on Jan 1 2021.

The judge ruled that because “a significant part of the conduct which underlies the criminality relied upon by the respondent occurred prior to 11pm on 31 December 2020”, Jama had the benefit of the highest level of EU law protection.

Dismissing the appeal by the Government, Upper Tribunal Judge Paul Skinner said: “Notwithstanding my reservations, this appeal must be decided on the basis that, as the judge found, Mr Jama was entitled to ‘top tier’ protection.”

He added regarding the previous decision: “I struggle with the judge’s logic.”

Date of offence of central relevance

The judge was required to focus on the offence for which Jama was convicted. The count was possession with intent to supply on Jan 1 2021.

He said: “It seems to me that the date of the offence as set out in the counts on the indictment was of central relevance to assessing which regime applies.”

But the Home Office had accepted the earlier judge’s view in drawing up the appeal, which meant the decision to allow him to stay in the UK could not be overturned on legal grounds.

Judge Skinner said: “The nature of the appellant’s offending background shows that he has not been deterred from engaging in the supply of class A drugs even when on licence or under police investigation for like offending.”

He added: “I accept that he has taken some steps to address his offending behaviour while in a custodial setting and has not tested positive for unlawful drugs during his current period of imprisonment.

“However, it would be overly optimistic to emphatically conclude on the evidence that he has turned a corner and will not return to a life of drug dealing upon release into the community.”

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