Alleged Kiwi drug smuggler Franciscus Schaapveld's extradition set aside
A Christchurch man accused of smuggling NZ$10 million worth of cocaine into the United Kingdom will get a second chance at staying in New Zealand.
Franciscus Schaapveld, a truck driver, had moved to the UK in 1998 with his wife and children. His wife died of cancer in 2006.
In 2012, his truck was stopped and searched at the UK border after a long-haul trip throughout Europe. A large quantity of cocaine was found in his trailer unit.
He was detained overnight, questioned by police, and released the next day, with a bail bond requiring him to surrender to police at a later date.
He returned to Christchurch two months later to be with his mother, travelling on his normal passport.
Because he had not been charged, he believed he was free to leave the country, and told a court he did so with the knowledge of the UK authorities.
He gained work as a truck driver for Fonterra while living in Christchurch.
Three years after returning to New Zealand, one of Schaapveld's alleged co-conspirators was sentenced and convicted to 20 years prison.
A warrant for Schaapveld's arrest was issued, and UK authorities applied for his extradition.
He was arrested in April 2016, and the extradition case was heard by the Christchurch District Court in August that year.
Schaapveld argued it would be unjust for him to be extradited, given it had taken four years for the charges to be laid against him.
Judge Jane Farish said she believed it was "unfair", on a humane level, for him to face deportation so long after the alleged offence had been committed.
She granted the extradition, however, citing the high bar set under the law for such decisions to be considered unjust.
Schaapveld successfully appealed the decision, citing inadequate representation: he said he had been unable to present evidence that medical and personal reasons prevented him from being extradited.
In particular, he had suffered depression since his wife's death. While in New Zealand, he had entered a relationship with a woman who also died of cancer, exacerbating his depression.
He also cared for his elderly mother, and worried what would happen to her if he was extradited.
The District Court agreed he had inadequate representation and ordered a re-hearing.
But this week, the High Court ruled the District Court had no power to do so, and set aside all former decisions relating to the case.
Justice Cameron Mander ruled such a decision should have been up to the High Court, not the District Court, as its jurisdiction ended once it had made its initial decision.
The case will now go back to square one: the District Court will reconsider the extradition case once more.