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Denied Notorious on-the-run conwoman Farah Damji fails in appeal against UK extradition

Damji, who fled to Ireland in 2020, is the daughter of a deceased South African-born property tycoon and has a criminal record stretching back to the 1990s

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Farah Damji (Photo: Met Police)

Farah Damji (Photo: Met Police)

Farah Damji (Photo: Met Police)

A notorious on-the-run conwoman may go to the Supreme Court in a bid to prevent her surrender to the UK after the latest attempt to halt her extradition failed.

The High Court on Tuesday ruled that Farah Damji, who is wanted in the UK after she fled a trial, is not entitled to an appeal against an order that she be extradited to serve out the remainder of her sentence.

On January 31 of this year, Mr Justice Paul Burns ordered that Damji (55) be surrendered to UK authorities to serve the remaining 40 days of a nine-month sentence imposed upon her in her absence. Damji then applied to the court for a certificate to appeal the judgement.

Damji fled to Ireland in February 2020 during her trial in the UK, at which she was convicted in her absence by Southwark Crown Court, London, of twice breaching a restraining order in April and June 2018.

Damji, who presented herself in Ireland as an Icelandic national and was living in an apartment on Bachelor's Walk in Dublin, is the daughter of a deceased South African-born property tycoon and has a criminal record for fraud and theft stretching back to the 1990s.

Damji's legal team had argued that mental health services in UK prisons could not provide adequate treatment for their client, who has been diagnosed with complex PTSD. This could amount to a breach of her human rights, her lawyers argued in fighting the surrender.

On Tuesday, Mr Justice Burns rejected Damji's application to appeal, saying there was "no uncertainty in law" regarding her surrender.

The judge said that there was no "fundamental breach" to Damji's human rights and that any argument of possible breaches of Damji's human rights in the future, as argued, was "speculation". Mr Justice Burns said he was satisfied in refusing leave to appeal the surrender order.

Mr Justice Burns granted Damji a two-week stay on the surrender, provided that her appeal be lodged inside the 15-day statutory period from January 31, when the surrender was ordered. That two-week stay will activate on the date of the application to the Supreme Court, he said.

When first ordering Damji's surrender, Mr Justice Burns said he was not satisfied that the standard of mental health services in UK prisons was so deficient that it would preclude extradition.

He said that while he had "sympathy" for Damji's mental health issues, the matter had to be decided by the law, even though she had received "different and possibly conflicting" diagnoses in the past.

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The court has heard that Damji's deceased father was a multi-millionaire but that Damji claimed to gardaí that his fortune had been put into a trust for his grandchildren and that she did not inherit his wealth.

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Farah Damji. Photo: Collins Courts

Farah Damji. Photo: Collins Courts

Farah Damji. Photo: Collins Courts

 

She has six convictions for 28 offences, which include multiple theft and fraud offences dating back to the 1990s.

At her bail hearing, Det Gda Eoin Kane had refused to accept that Ms Damji was of limited means and said that she was in possession of a Rolex and Breitling watch in her apartment when arrested.

At that hearing, Ms Emily Farrell SC, for the State, said that Damji had been convicted for breaching a restraining order in the UK, granted to two males, by naming, stalking and harassing them and was also facing a breach of licence sentence for absconding from her trial.

Ms Farrell said that in Damji's UK trial the court outlined her calling one victim 10 times a day, along with leaving voicemails and contacting his wife's cousins in order to get his wife's phone number regarding "concerns about her children".

The restraining order also precluded her from naming, by any means, a male who was a victim of her harassment. It was alleged in her UK trial that Damji had tweeted a link to a crowd-funding internet page where she had posted the male's 2016 victim impact statement.

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