A notorious fugitive con artist could go to the Supreme Court to try to stop her being handed over to the UK after the latest attempt to stop her extradition failed.
The High Court ruled on Tuesday that Farah Damji, who is wanted in the UK after fleeing a trial, has no right to appeal against an extradition order to serve the remainder of her sentence.
On January 31 this year, Judge Paul Burns ordered that Damji (55) be handed over to British authorities to serve the remaining 40 days of a nine-month sentence imposed on him in his absence. Damji then asked the court for a certificate to appeal the judgment.
Damji fled to Ireland in February 2020 during her trial in the UK, where 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 to Ireland as an Icelandic national and lived in a flat 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 flight dating back to the 1990s.
Damji’s legal team had argued that mental health services in UK prisons could not provide adequate treatment to their client, who was diagnosed with complex PTSD. It could constitute a violation of his human rights, argued his lawyers in their fight against the surrender.
On Tuesday, Judge Burns denied Damji’s appeal, saying there was “no uncertainty in law” about his surrender.
The judge said there was no “fundamental violation” of Damji’s human rights and that any arguments regarding possible violations of Damji’s human rights in the future, as had been advanced, was “speculation”. Judge Burns said he was satisfied to deny leave to appeal the remission order.
Judge Burns granted Damji a two-week reprieve from the surrender, provided his appeal was filed within the statutory 15-day deadline from January 31, when the surrender was ordered. This two-week stay will activate on the date of the application to the Supreme Court, he said.
In Damji’s first surrender order, Judge Burns said he was not convinced that the standard of mental health services in UK prisons was so deficient that it would prevent extradition.
He said while he had ‘sympathy’ for Damji’s mental health issues, the matter should be decided by law, even though she had received ‘different and possibly conflicting’ diagnoses in the past. .
The court heard that Damji’s deceased father was a multi-millionaire, but Damji told gardaí that his fortune was placed in a trust for his grandchildren and that she did not inherit his wealth.
She has six convictions for 28 offenses, including multiple theft and fraud offenses dating back to the 1990s.
During her bail hearing, Detective Gda Eoin Kane had refused to accept that Ms Damji had limited means and said she was in possession of a Rolex and Breitling watch in her flat during her arrest.
At that hearing, Ms Emily Farrell SC, for the State, said Damji had been convicted of breaching a UK restraining order, granted to two men, by naming, stalking and harassing them and was also facing a license violation penalty for fleeing trial.
Ms Farrell said that during Damji’s trial in the UK, the court described her calling a victim 10 times a day, leaving voicemails and contacting his wife’s cousins in order to get the his wife’s phone number about “concerns about his children”.
The restraining order also prevented him from naming, by any means, a male victim of his harassment. It was alleged in his UK trial that Damji tweeted a link to a crowdfunding webpage where she posted the man’s 2016 victim impact statement.