Alleged child sex abuser who taught kids to box fought extradition saying 'Texan jails too hot'
A SUSPECTED child sex abuser, who set up a boxing gym for children after spending 14 years on the run, tried to avoid extradition to the US, by claiming it would "breach his human rights" if he was held in a cell that was too hot and cramped.
Briton Anthony Rae, 49, who denies the charges, faces up to 99 years in a Texan jail if convicted after a trial over a series of alleged sex attacks on a 12-year-old girl and two counts of failing to surrender.
He has now lost a three tear legal battle to avoid extradition.
He fled the US in November 2005 after he was charged with six child sex offences, which included aggravated sexual assault and indecency with a child, under his birth name of Anthony Stevens.
The fitness coach was on bail, but went to Mexico, where he flew to France, before getting back to the UK.
Rae stayed under the radar for years and in 2019, after changing his surname from Stevens, set up the Basement Fitness gym in Ongar, Essex, which also taught children aged eight to 16 how to box.
US investigators tracked Rae to the UK via social media in 2020 before an international arrest warrant was issued and he was arrested in April that year.
In August 2021 former Home Secretary Priti Patel signed off his extradition to the US after a full extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court where a district judge said he should be sent.
Stevens appealed to the High Court and permission was refused in March 2022, however, he appealed again and in May last year was granted permission for a full hearing before Mr Justice Martin Chamberlain.
Rae's sole appeal ground was that extradition would breach his human rights due to the risk he could be placed in a small and hot cell during his time in custody.
The hearing in November heard evidence on behalf of Rae from Michele Deitch, a former federal court-appointed monitor of prisons from 1984-1990, who continues to go into them every year.
She told the court four out of five people incarcerated in Texas do not have access to air conditioning in prison cells and in summer months, outdoor temperatures can soar to 43 degrees C and higher indoors.
She said: "These extreme temperatures make the conditions inside unbearable, and for some incarcerated people, the heat is not just uncomfortable but deadly. There have been at least 20 deaths in Texas prisons attributed to heat stroke since 1998, and in 2019, there were 56 heat-related illnesses for incarcerated people and staff."
She added that a Texas cell could be as small as 40 square feet and house two people with half the space taken by beds and furniture, even though they do not conform to modern standards.
Texan officials were asked for an assurance that Rae would only be housed in cells that meet modern standards, but Jason Clark, of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ), said in a letter to the court: "We) will make a good faith effort to place the appellant in a conforming housing area during the term of his incarceration.
"However, the TDCJ cannot guarantee he will never be placed in a nonconforming housing area over the term of his incarceration due to operation or inmate needs."
Judge Chamberlain wrote in his judgement: "As the letter makes clear, this is not a guarantee; and the reasons why he might be placed in non-conforming accommodation go well beyond the force majeure-type circumstances."
Mr Clark was unable to commit to saying the risk of Rae being housed in non-conforming accommodation was lower than 5 per cent.
Judge Chamberlain said the risk could be as high as 13 per cent and the district judge who first ordered his extradition had failed to give this sufficient weight.
He added: "The context was that these temperatures would have to be endured by persons most likely sharing two person cells, which – even if they met the Muršić minimum space requirements – would still be very small.
"The conditions described give rise to a real risk of treatment that would breach Article three (human rights) standards applying the jurisprudence of the Strasbourg Court."
Judge Chamberlain postponed his decision, while allowing the US authorities one more chance to convince the court that Rae can be held in suitable conditions.
His appeal was finally dismissed at the High Court, after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said the average temperature in cells was actually "mid 80s to low 90s".
He can no be extradited to face trial.