A BO’NESS mum extradited to America on multiple criminal charges could be back in Scotland within weeks, after a plea deal was struck with prosecutors.
Kerry Ann Shanks appeared at Phoenix District Court last Tuesday and admitted one count of supplying 100g of red phosporous to what turned out to be an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
While legal to sell in the UK, the chemical is classified in America as an illegal import, as it can be used in the manufacture of the drug crystal meth.
Kerry Ann (35) was flown to America on April 12, after the US District Attorney agreed to accept a much reduced plea providing she consented to extradition.
A further 81 related charges against her were dropped and her release from prison was immediate, due to seven months spent in Cornton Vale on remand in 2007.
She had potentially faced a trial and up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
This week lawyer Graeme Brown told the Journal and Gazette his relieved client was awaiting deportation, in the ‘Arizona equivalent of Dungavel’ (Immigration Removal Centre).
He thought it was very lonely and few people spoke English but Mr Brown said: “It’s a short term loss for what will be an enormous weight lifted off her shoulders when she is back.”
As far as he was concerned, she should have been home by now and had been a ‘little let down’, but he had been quoted a ‘couple of weeks’.
He will ask the Scottish Goverment to step in if her American stay looks like being any longer.
Kerry Ann, and now estranged husband Brian Howes (49), had fought a lengthy, high-profile UK legal battle against extradition to America, where they were accused of unlawfully importing chemicals for the production of crystal meth.
They had maintained it was part of a legimate fireworks business but in February Howes, extradited to Arizona last July, admitted 10 charges with the remaining 72 dropped.
In a plea agreement he confessed to knowing, or having reasonable cause to know, that some American customers buying chemicals from his companies online were misusing them for illegal purposes. Sentencing is on May 15.
Under the plea agreement, it will be recommended the court imposes a prison sentence at the lower-end of the scale and should Howes request to serve any sentence in the UK, this would be unopposed.
Mr Brown said this week: “Kerry Ann has always maintained that her involvement in this was very, very minimal if anything at all.
“It became the case the District Attorney was prepared to accept a much reduced plea provided that she consented to extradition.”
The family’s Bo’ness home was repossessed last year. Kerry Ann, who currently has five children in foster care, still had a ‘very strong appeal’ pending to the European Court of Human Rights, he said.
She had voluntarily waived an ECHR rule blocking her extradition, in order to travel to the USA.
Mr Brown said there were ‘huge lessons to be learnt’ from what had unfolded in his client’s case once lines of communication were established with American prosecutors after Howes’ extradition.
“The judge in the case raised the issue of why this couldn’t be done by video link,” he said.