The mother of a 21-year-old autistic man has vowed that she will not stop fighting to prevent her son being deported to Jamaica following a conviction for the robbery of a friend’s mobile phone he says he is innocent of.
The case of Osime Brown has attracted increasing support from MPs, human rights campaigners and lawyers, who say that the Home Office’s intention to deport Brown to Jamaica, a country he left at the age of four – in line with rules that say those who have served a sentence of 12 months or more face automatic deportation – must be challenged.
His lawyers have voiced concern about the role of the joint enterprise law in the case.
A petition to oppose the deportation has so far attracted more than 126,000 signatures.
Brown has a range of difficulties. He was diagnosed with autism at the age of 16 and has also been diagnosed with an underlying anxiety disorder, emotionally unstable personality disorder and PTSD.
He spent time in care from the age of 16 and was convicted of robbery, attempted robbery and perverting the course of justice in 2018, charges he has always insisted he is innocent of. He completed his prison sentence a few days ago.
He was due to be transferred to an immigration detention centre in preparation for deportation to Jamaica, but following intervention from his lawyers, has been allowed to return to his family in Dudley.
A new legal appeal is under way against his deportation and his lawyers are gathering fresh evidence in support of his case.
His mother, Joan Martin, 54, says she is overjoyed to have him back home.
“The fight starts now to stop Osime’s deportation,” she said. “I’m like a volcano and I’m going to fight to keep him in the UK.
“I was overwhelmed to see him. I cried. He was like a kid in a sweetshop.
“Osime has been affected mentally, physically and emotionally by this traumatic experience. I just want him to relax now. I got him his Playstation and I am cooking him his favourite meal, dumplings and ackee. He is really trying to adjust and reorientate himself. He was in a cruel environment in prison for three years.
“I want to see a public inquiry for all cases like Osime’s – children and young people who have been in care and end up in the criminal justice system.”
Clare Hayes and Sarah Ricca, of Deighton Pierce Glynn said: “It would seem from information received to date that the threat to deport Osime is the culmination of a long history of discriminatory treatment, which is all too familiar for children with autism, and for black children especially.
“Osime’s case shines a light on institutional racism in many of its forms, and particularly concerning in Osime’s case, the intersection of racism with the discriminatory treatment of disabled, neuro-divergent people and people with autism, especially in places of detention.”
An early day motion, Justice for Osime Brown, has so far attracted signatures from 28 MPs. It calls for the plans to deport Brown to Jamaica to be halted and instead for him to receive the support he needs for his disabilities.
Bella Sankey, the director of Detention Action, condemned the plans to deport Brown. He was due to be transferred from prison to an immigration centre a few days ago but following intervention from his lawyers, was allowed to return home to his family instead.
“Osime’s acute vulnerabilities and the many ways in which he has been failed by the state make Priti Patel’s plans to detain and deport him all the more shocking. But make no mistake, our detention and deportation laws are disproportionate and systemically racist, tearing apart ordinary lives and families across our country. We need reform so that deportation is reserved for the most serious offenders with minimal links to the UK, not young black men raised in the UK and British in all but name.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We only ever return those who we and, where applicable, the courts are satisfied do not need our protection and have no legal basis to remain in the UK. It would be inappropriate to comment further while legal proceedings are ongoing.”
What is the joint enterprise law?
Joint Enterprise is referred to as a doctrine or a principle that has evolved under common law rather than an actual statute where two or more people are convicted for participating in the same crime.
One example is where two or more people commit a criminal offence and during the course of this crime, one of the group goes on to commit a further crime. All those who took part in the first will also be liable for the second crime if they foresaw the possibility that that crime might occur.
This has been criticised as it allows people to be convicted of very serious crimes on the basis of what they foresaw and not what they intended.
A grassroots organisation called JENGbA, – (Joint Enterprise Not Guilty By Association) has campaigned for years against joint enterprise. The supreme court ruled in a case known as R v Jogee against convictions on this basis. However, the decision was not automatically retrospective and to secure an appeal, all those convicted under these rules must prove a substantial injustice would otherwise be done.
Permission to appeal will only be granted to those who can prove that they would not have been convicted if the law had been properly applied.
Jogee was convicted of murder despite the fact it was his friend who stabbed the victim. This led to a retrial in which he was found not guilty. It was concluded that in joint enterprise cases when it comes to the reviewing of evidence the standard is low, which has resulted in many wrongful convictions of those who were bystanders, knew the actual perpetrator of the crime or those who were not even involved in the incident.
JENGbA supports more than 1,000 men, women and children convicted under joint enterprise.