A Jamaican criminal who avoided deportation following legal challenges backed by Labour MPs and a host of celebrities went on to commit murder, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Ernesto Elliott was due to be aboard a Home Office charter flight in December 2020, but dodged efforts to remove him thanks to last-minute human rights appeals.
But in June 2021 – six months after he was supposed to have been removed from Britain – Elliott murdered a 35-year-old man in a horrific knife fight.
Elliott was last month jailed for at least 26 years for murder, it can be disclosed today.
Onlookers who witnessed the bloody, eight-minute confrontation suffered ‘significant trauma’, police said.
It was a crime that would never have taken place if Elliott, 45, had been sent back to his birth country.
Last night Priti Patel, who oversaw the attempt to remove Elliott when she was in charge of the Home Office, said the case showed why it was crucial to defy ‘do-gooders’ who try to block deportations.
Elliott was due to be on the chartered Boeing 757 on December 2, 2020, after being convicted of knife crime, police sources said. But he and 22 other serious criminals submitted last-minute appeals – including human rights claims – which led to them avoiding deportation to Jamaica.
The 23 criminals had been sentenced to a combined 156 years in jail. Their appeals came just days after 60 celebrities, authors and other public figures signed an open letter opposing the flight.
They included supermodel Naomi Campbell, Line Of Duty star Thandiwe Newton, James Bond actress Naomie Harris and historian David Olusoga. A host of Labour MPs also added their signatures.
Opposition MPs even compared the deportation flight to the Windrush scandal, even though the Caribbean migrants who suffered awful injustice in that episode had committed no crimes.
On June 2, 2021, Elliott was involved in the vicious knife fight in broad daylight in Greenwich, south-east London.
Alongside his son Nico, 23, Elliott robbed and murdered 35-year-old Nathaniel Eyewu-Ago in a row over drugs.
The horrifying incident was videoed by shocked neighbours. It shows Elliott, his son and another man repeatedly lunging with long-bladed knives and a hammer at the victim, who was armed with a machete.
Mr Eyewu-Ago collapsed after being stabbed through the heart and died in hospital six days later.
After a trial at the Old Bailey last month, Elliott, from Walthamstow, east London, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 26 years and a concurrent sentence of 12 years for robbery. Keeping him in jail will cost the taxpayer more than £1.3million at current rates.
His son was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 22 years and a concurrent sentence of ten years for robbery.
Detective Chief Inspector Kate Kieran said the father and son were ‘prepared to use any form of violence necessary to protect their stolen property’ after robbing the victim of drugs and cash.
She added that the crime had ‘caused significant trauma to innocent members of the public who witnessed it’.
Former home secretary Ms Patel said: ‘This case is exactly why we must continue to defy the protestations from the Labour Party, the do-gooding celebrities and immigration lawyers and remove convicted foreign criminals, rapists, murders, child abusers and drug dealers who have no right to be in this country.’
After avoiding deportation in 2020, Elliott is thought to have been released back on to the streets within weeks. The Home Office can detain foreign national offenders only if there is a ‘realistic prospect of imminent removal’.
Home Office minister Chris Philp said at the time: ‘It is disappointing that specialist immigration law firms continued to use last-minute tactics to remove a significant number of offenders from this flight. Those we are attempting to remove have committed crimes which have a devastating impact on victims and their families.’ Another foreign criminal who avoided being sent back to Jamaica on the same flight was murderer Michael Antonio White.
He and accomplice Hopeton Alexander Pink received life sentences at London’s Kingston Crown Court in 2003 after shooting a man six times at close range.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Foreign national offenders who exploit our system and commit crimes here in the UK will face the full force of the law, including deportation at the earliest opportunity for those eligible. While legal challenges can frustrate immediate deportation, we remain resolute in our commitment to deport those who abuse our hospitality.’