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Severely Autistic Young Man Falsley Imprisoned and Facing Deportation Order
Osime Brown moved from Jamaica to Dudley in the West Midlands with his mother and siblings when he was 4 years old—yet the Home Office denied Osime access to Legal Aid by challenging his right to British Citizenship (see below)
After years of being failed by education and social care services— “He was moved 28 times to different places within 12 months by social services”—as with some of the other vulnerable young people whose stories are told on this site, as a teenager, Osime was the victim of ‘mate crimes’ (see Lucas' Story). This is the situation where mentally vulnerable young people are targeted by criminals precisely because they can exploit them for their own ends.
During his time in Local Authority care, one of a group of 8 other young people Osime was with, stole a mobile phone from another young person. According to Osime's mother, Joan Martin, only Osime, one white kid, and the only other black teenager in the group were arrested and asked to make statements. Yet, even though he was not the person who took the phone, Osime was the only one of the group to receive a custodial sentence. This was aggravated by Osime being further charged with 'perverting the course of justice'—his crime, according to Joan, was a Facebook message he posted in which he urged the victim to “stop lying” about his involvement in the robbery.
The case took two years to come to trial, but Osime was eventually sentenced to five years in prison under the now discredited and rescinded law of joint enterprise (see Alex's Story and Trewen's Story).
"Osime was arrested in 2016 over the alleged theft of a cell phone. In 2018, two years later when he was
old enough to be charged as an adult, Osime stood trial and was convicted of theft. This happened despite
witnesses for his defence—those who actually took the phone—pleading guilty and testifying that Osime
tried to stop the older teenagers from taking the phone." NeuroClastic, June 27 2020
As Osime’s mother, Joan, reports, “They exploited his disability. He was an easy target to push the blame on to. His autism means he always likes to please the people he’s with. He can be easily led and manipulated because he is very trusting.” Describing the moment Osime was sentenced in court, Joan adds: “He had a blank look on his face. He was looking out of space. During the court proceedings he even climbed up and pointed to himself on the monitor that was showing them walking around in the shopping centre. He did not comprehend what was happening.”
On commencing his jail sentence at HMP Stocken in Rutland, the prison’s healthcare service assessed Osime as suffering from “an underlying anxiety disorder and emotionally unstable personality disorder, and post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD).” Yet on her first visit to the prison, Joan noticed that her son's arm was bandaged covering scars from Osime self-harming by slashing his arms. She had not been informed of these injuries.
“He’s not in a good state. Last time I visited him he was crying because his tummy hurt. He laid his head in my lap and said: ‘Mummy my belly, my belly’.” Joan, a former psychiatric nurse, later discovered that Osime had fainted a number of times in jail because of an underlying heart condition aggravated by large doses of antipsychotic medication.
If the reader is beginning to wander what Osime is doing in prison rather than receiving the statutory health and social services he is entitled to—in fact it was the failure of these services that led to absurdity of the charges and prison sentence in the first place—things were to get much worse.
As a result of the overuse of sedatives and anti-psychotic, Osime has developed a heart condition since being in prison and has undergone two operations, including the implant of a loop recording device to monitor his heart. During the first surgery, the surgeons did not administer enough anesthesia, which left him awake throughout the entire procedure. Joan, terrified that her son will be killed in prison, continues the story:
"They did an angiogram through is right arm, and immediately after the procedure, the cuff was
placed back onto his right wrist, where the catheter was inserted; his wrist was swollen and he was
in great distress, but they did not care! He was also double cuffed and chained to an officer. He
could not eat properly because both hands were cuffed together. He was stripped of his dignity."
On top of the abuses already described, and clearly having learned nothing from the Windrush scandal, in August 2018, the Home Office issued Osime with a removal notice based on a series of minor criminal offences he committed as a teenager culminating in the five-year sentence for stealing the mobile phone. The deportation to Jamaica was set for 3 December 2018, until a last-minute appeal was lodged. That was dismissed pending a final appeal in the immigration courts in 2020.
“The young man’s mother and siblings, along with a clinical psychologist and many who know Brown,
believe his deportation marks a culmination of failings by statutory agencies over the years to
acknowledge his learning disability, and subsequent failure to provide him with adequate support to cope
with the challenges that come with it.” The Independent, 15 March 2020
The first thing Osime asked his mother on being issued with his deportation order was whether there was a bus he could take from Jamaica to visit her in Dudley. If he does not die in a UK prison, Joan is convinced that if her son is deported to Jamaica he will die there. “He wouldn’t cope. If he can’t even cope here, how is he going to cope in an environment and a culture he doesn’t know? He would be exploited because of his vulnerability.”
This family have been abused by the Home Office now for four generations. Joan's grandparents came to Britain during the 60s on the Windrush but when Joan's grandmother travelled to Jamaica on holiday she was refused entry back to the UK and the couple remain separated until their deaths.
A psychological assessment on Osime carried out in October 2019, states that the way in which his life was managed when he was in care was “wholly misguided and extremely damaging”, and that had he not been placed in care he may not have found his way into a life of criminality. “There is every reason to believe that, had [his mother] been listened to and instead of removing Brown from his family when he was barely 16, it would have been possible to support his mother to manage him in a situation where people loved him and who were prepared to impose a structure on his life”.
Abuses by HMP Stocken and the Home Office
Last week of July 2020 —Osime's mother found out that Osime had been coughing up blood and complaining that his foot was numb. Yet the prison authorities were refusing to admit Osime to hospital for investigations. After outside pressure they agreed to admit him in a week's time! The prison doctor, who was clearly unable to make a diagnosis, could do no more than admonish Osime for not taking part in regular gym exercises. A month later Osime is still coughing blood and now complaining of abdominal pains. When he pleaded with prison officers to help him they became angry, removed his work privilege (the only respite he got), ignored Osime's pleas, and locked him in his cell. In frustration Osime punched out at the cell breaking his hand. He was left for 24 hours with the broken hand unattended to.
9th September 2020 — Osime phoned his mother from prison to tell her that a probation officer had told him that she had received a letter to inform her that Osime was to be detained in a removal centre on 7th October to await deportation to Jamaica. Osime is frightened and confused.
14th September 2020 — Osime has a worsening heart condition and is now on suicide watch. He phoned his mother to say he had fainted again and had been taken to hospital where an EEG confirmed that there had been a worsening in his heart condition yet he was returned to his cell where he told prison officers that he intended to take his own life—hence the suicide watch, as if that were the most appropriate way to provide care under the circumstances.
15th September 2020 — Osime informed his mother by phone that he had been taken off suicide watch but is being denied food and had not eaten for 34 hours. When he asked for food he was told it would be brought over from H Wing but it never arrived.
Local Authority Failures
With the family's agreement, Autism Injustice submitted a referral under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014 to Dudley Adult Social Services on 31st July 2020. After chasing up the referral Dudley stated that abuse and neglect in prison does not fall under the remit of the Care Act but were unable to produce the relevant legislation to support this claim. On 3rd September (over 4 weeks later) they said that they had transferred the safeguarding referral to Stocken as that is the area where the abuse is taking place. This was in spite of the fact that Osime's case remains open to Dudley Care Leavers Team, that Osime clearly has care and support needs from the local authority, and is being abused and neglected.
Bizarrely, at the point Osime was released from prison under license to the care of his mother, and in spite of his obvious care and support needs, Dudley Care Leavers Team closed Osime's case to Social Services, telling his mother that if he needed services he would need to be 'referred' to Adult Social Services. This is in spite of Children's Services' responsibility to undertake a planned transfer of care leavers with a disability or ongoing care needs to Adult Services. "Transition" from children’s to adult services is a statutory duty of Local Authorities under the Care Act 2014. Following complaints, Dudley then reinstated the Care Leavers Team worker but have yet to undertake the transition process.
It would appear that none of the statutory agencies are taking any responsibility for what is happening to Osime, all preferring to shift the responsibility elsewhere (ultimately to Jamaica it seems) even though it is obvious that Osime should be receiving urgent health and social care in the community.
Protest against Osime's deportation opposite the Home Office on Friday 4th September 2020.
For more info and photos & video of the protest visit: Justice for Osime Brown Twitter page
RECENT CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS
7th Oct. 2020 — Osime released from prison
Osime released home from prison on licence pending the Home Office's continued attempts to deport Osime to Jamaica. There was mention of the fact that Osime's health problems precluded moving him to a deportation centre but not why the prison authorities are releasing him from prison at this point — he has not completed his sentence?
6th Oct. 2020 — Press release from Osime's solicitors
Clare Hayes and Sarah Ricca, Osime’s solicitors, said, "Deighton Pierce Glynn has only recently been instructed in this matter and is still obtaining all the necessary records concerning Osime’s history. It would seem from information received to date that the threat to deport Osime is the culmination of a long history of discriminatory treatment, which is all too familiar for children with autism, and for black children especially."
"Osime’s case shines a light on institutional racism in many of its forms, and particularly concerning in Osime’s case, the intersection of racism with the discriminatory treatment of disabled, neurodivergent people and people with autism, especially in places of detention. The decision not to detain pending deportation is a very important step in turning the tide of injustices that appear to have beset Osime since his early years. It couldn’t have happened without his mother Joan’s tireless fight for justice for her son – and without the efforts of all those who have supported her campaign."
16th June 2021 — Deportation Order Dropped
Osime's family received the long awaited and welcome news that the Home Office had abandoned their decision to deport Osime to Jamaica but the fight for justice continues as Osime still has a criminal record for a crime he never committed, not to mention the the failures by the prison service and local authority to safeguard Osime and meet his health and welfare needs:
Sign Change.org petition HERE for a public enquiry into the wrongful conviction of Osime