Phillip Harkins loses record-breaking 14-year battle against extradition to US for murder

'I really don't understand how he was ever allowed to file that many appeals', says victim's mother Patricia Gallagher

Harkins has been fighting against his transfer to America to face the charge since 2003 Handout

Harkins has been fighting against his transfer to America to face the charge since 2003 Handout

A British man who is wanted for murder in the US, has lost his 14-year-long legal battle against extradition. Phillip Harkins, 38, has been fighting against a transfer to America to face the charge since 2003.

It is thought to have been Britain's longest-running extradition case.

But the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected his final appeal, saying his rights would not be breached if he was jailed without parole in Florida.

Mr Harkins, who is originally from Grenock in Inverclyde, was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Joshua Hayes, who was shot and killed during a drugs-related robbery in 1999. He denies being involved in the killing.

Released on bail in 2002, he returned to Scotland. But he was subsequently jailed for dangerous driving after killing a 62-year-old woman in a car crash in his hometown. 

US authorities then sought his extradition for the 1999 murder of Mr Hayes, beginning a lengthy legal battle which has twice been through the British courts and up to European Court. 

Responding to the judgement, Mr Hayes's mother Patricia Gallagher told BBC News: “I really don't understand how he was ever allowed to file that many appeals. That's way too many and he said he's a victim, and he's not.“

She said her son's death had been “real rough” on her grandchildren, who had been brought up without a father. “My Josh has two grandchildren that will never get to know him,” she said. “We keep Josh very much alive here. He'll always be carried in my heart and my head.”

Prior to the ruling, US prosecutors assured UK authorities they will not seek the death penalty for Harkins were he convicted, But his lawyers argued that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Strasbourg court previously ruled against Harkins, but he was allowed to make a second appeal in 2015. The Grand Chamber of the court said the course should not be opened again, meaning US authorities are free to go ahead with the transfer.