America's 'most wanted' fugitive found working at Northfleet supermarket 'should face a retrial' (From News Shopper)
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America's 'most wanted' fugitive Sean Lopes found working at Northfleet supermarket 'should face a retrial'
ONE of America’s most wanted men tracked down in a Sainsbury’s store in Northfleet should face a retrial because he is "severely mentally disturbed", a court has heard.
Sean Lopes, who went on the run in November 2004 before his trial for the attempted murder and kidnapping of his then 22-year-old former girlfriend, was due to be extradited to the United States.
The 47-year-old skipped out on his $250,000 bail and was convicted in his absence in 2005.
He was sentenced to 15 years in prison as well as two one-year sentences to run concurrently for weapons offences.
However in May this year he was found working as a store manager in Pepper Hill, and living in Victoria Road, Chatham.
Ben Cooper, defending, said Lopes had been treated at a mental health facility in New York before the offence occurred.
He asked the court to delay the extradition hearing until the necessary evidence and a psychiatric assessment could be obtained to prove the defendant’s absence was not voluntary.
Mr Cooper said: "He was not aware of what he was doing.
"Mr Lopes had suffered a breakdown of sorts, he was suffering from serious depression at the time, hearing voices and had attempted suicide.
"He is severely mentally disturbed."
He explained Lopes could not remember where he was treated or for how long, but believes it was between January and March 2004.
District Judge Quentin Purdy said he failed to see how Lopes was not functioning properly when he went on the run as he appeared in court in October 2004 but failed to show up a month later.
He added any psychiatrist would have issues determining a man’s state of mind over a decade ago from a report.
Clair Dobbin, prosecuting, said there was no indication Lopes was not fit to be tried in 2004.
She said: "There was no suggestion in the American papers that his fitness to stand trial was an issue."
Appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, dressed in a striped grey fleece and grey jogging bottoms, Lopes spent the entire hearing rocking back and forth and muttering under his breath.
Last year, US authorities reportedly said they believed the Guyana-born fugitive was hiding in Trinidad and Tobago.
They took him into custody after obtaining an extradition warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
A member of the public had raised their concerns about Lopes to Kent Police and after an investigation, which involved the authorities in New York and the Met Police, he was tracked down and arrested.
Lopes was remanded in custody and is next due to appear on November 13 for a case management hearing.
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