The family of a man due to be deported to Jamaica within the next 24 hours say he is being “punished twice” for a crime he committed a decade ago.
Akeem Finlay, 31, from south London was jailed for six years in 2014 for committing grievous bodily harm against a man at a London train station.
He served half the sentence and was released early for good behaviour, but is now facing deportation because he only came to the UK from the Caribbean nation as a 10-year-old.
His grandparents were part of the Windrush generation.
A chartered flight with up to 50 people on board is reportedly due to leave Birmingham for Jamaica in the early hours of the morning. Akeem’s partner Nicole wasn’t allowed to visit him today at the west London detention centre where he is being held.
“It’s like putting somebody in the desert and asking them to survive,” she told Sky News.
“He has no family or friends in Jamaica, no support network. Nothing. He won’t even be able to feed himself.
“Akeem is a wonderful father and has completely turned his life around. He deserves a second chance. He knows what he did was wrong, but he has been punished for it once already and now he’s being punished again.
“The Home Office need to see that they’re also punishing his family, his children. They should look at each case individually.”
Finlay has four young children in London, but won’t be able to play any part in their upbringing if he is sent to Jamaica.
“It’s damaging my mental health, I’m finding it extremely difficult,” he told Sky News by telephone from the detention centre.
“What I did was wrong, but I have served my time and just want a chance to work and bring up my family. This country is all I know, I don’t know anything about Jamaica.”
Campaigners suspect the flight has been arranged for mid-August because that’s when legal experts and psychiatrists are often on summer leave and getting access to experts on behalf of defendants can be tricky.
“There are people on that flight who have mental health problems, there are people who came to Britain as children, they shouldn’t be deported,” said Karen Doyle from the campaign group Movement for Justice.
“For some of them, this will be a death sentence. Many of them don’t know anyone in Jamaica, they will effectively be destitute in a country they don’t know.”
But the Home Office said, “none of those to be deported are British Citizens or British Nationals”.
A spokesperson added: “People who come to this country and commit crimes should be expected to be removed.
“That is why we regularly operate charter flights to different countries – to remove foreign offenders, and those who have no right to be in the country but refused or failed to leave voluntarily.”
The Jamaican government has asked for the flight to be halted over concerns that the Delta variant could be imported.