Donna Francis is wanted in the US in relation to the death of Kelly Mayhew, a young woman who died in the US on 30 May 2015. Ms Francis is accused of administering silicone injections into Ms Mayhew’s buttocks, on two separate occasions, without holding the relevant medical qualifications to perform the procedure. Prosecutors in the US have requested her extradition on one count of criminally negligent homicide and two counts of unauthorised practice of a profession.
On 25 October 2018, District Judge McPhee, sitting in Westminster Magistrates’ Court, ordered Ms Francis’ extradition to the US and sent the case to the Home Secretary.
On 26 July 2019, the UK High Court dismissed Ms Francis’ appeal against the Extradition Order.
Ms Francis’ legal team contested her extradition on the basis that District Judge McPhee was wrong in ordering Ms Francis’ extradition because:
• her extradition to the US would breach her rights under Article 3 ECHR because the prevailing prison conditions in Suffolk County Jail, where Ms Francis would be imprisoned if she is convicted in the US after her trial , combined with Ms Francis’ clinically diagnosed depression would amount to inhuman and degrading treatment. It was submitted that District Judge McPhee did not pay proper attention to the expert evidence given in the original extradition hearing which provided clear evidence that conditions in Suffolk County Jail did not meet Article 3 standards;
• her extradition to the US would breach the rights under Article 8 ECHR of Ms Francis and her young daughter because it would be a disproportionate interference with their rights to a family life for her to be extradited without a guarantee that, if convicted, she could return to the UK to serve her sentence.
Lord Chief Justice Burnett and Mr Justice William Davis rejected Ms Francis’ appeal on the basis that:
• District Judge McPhee was entitled to rule that Ms Francis’ Article 3 rights would not be at real risk if she were to be extradited to the US because the expert in the first hearing had not visited and could not give expert evidence on conditions in Suffolk County Jail. Even if there was a contemplated risk of inhuman and degrading conditions prevailing at the prison, the US government had made “prospective arrangements, supported by the court in New York, that would avoid the issue.” The judges noted that “strong evidence is required to suggest that the lack of support and treatment of those with relatively mild mental health conditions would violate article 3 standards”; and
• On the Article 8 arguments, the judges ruled that there was clear understanding that Ms Francis would be imprisoned, on conviction to a custodial sentence of more than one year and that “no sufficient evidence to support the argument that separating mother and daughter will have a severe effect” has been adduced. Ms Francis’ daughter “will remain in the care of close family members and contact with her mother will be possible remotely whether or not visits are arranged.” The judges found that the expected impact of Ms Francis’ extradition on her daughter “fell far short of that needed to resist extradition”.
This case involves no point of principle or new issue of law, but it does clearly illustrate the need for Article 3 arguments to be supported by cogent and clear evidence relating to the specific circumstances that a requested person will face. Additionally, evidence relating to Article 8 arguments about the impact of an extradition on the requested person’s child will need to show an exceptionally adverse impact on a child of the separation from a parent that goes beyond the general and usual stress caused when a parent of a young child is imprisoned for a criminal offence.