Published: 06:00, 13 February 2020
| Updated: 09:56, 14 February 2020
By Joe Morgan
A Kent dad fears he will be killed by the mafia in a Portugese prison if he is extradited to serve a jail sentence.
Father-of-two John Hodgson, from Herne Bay, was on a trip to the Algarve in 2011 when he elbowed a drunk local man in the face outside a late-night bar, causing him to fall down steps and hit his head.
The victim, Ricardo Teixeira, who was under the influence of drugs, died a week later as the result of a traumatic brain injury.
Hodgson, now 29, who claims he acted in self defence, was charged with what the Portuguese courts called "compound grievous bodily harm" but would be considered manslaughter in the UK.
The painter and decorator now faces extradition to serve his seven-year jail time after he was pulled from his house in a dawn raid by officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA), who were executing a European Arrest Warrant on behalf of the Portuguese authorities. Now he must wait until later this month to learn his fate.
Catherine Brown, prosecuting, told an extradition hearing at Westminster Magistrates' Court yesterday afternoonthat the offence was committed on July 7 2011, at 3.46am.
She said: “He was present at a late-night bar or nightclub in the Algarve. The victim was also at that nightclub. The victim was known to be on drugs and intoxicated.
“Without anything proceeding it, outside of the bar, the defendant elbowed him to the side of the head where he fell down steps and hit his head.
“The defendant then returned inside the nightclub and did not notify anyone what had happened.
“The victim died a week later from a traumatic brain injury.”
Hodgson was asked why he chose not to return to Portugal for his trial in October 2016 or to serve his sentence.
Giving evidence, he said: “I was scared for my safety.
"I heard from my nephews’ dad that the family was part of a gang, or mafia as he said.
“I saw the protest with the pictures. I didn’t feel safe going out there.
“The protest board said 'English assassin'. On one of the boards, it had my mum and dad’s previous address in the UK.
“They sold the house after the protest took place in Albufeira strip in 2012.
“The protest pictures was put on the internet, my sister’s partner at the time was in Portugal and witnessed it himself.
“I don’t know the people that they know. If they are involved in a violent background, I’d be worried about prison over there.
“It can take one call to cause a problem.”
Hodgson claimed he had received a wad of papers stating his sentence in Portuguese and with very little in English, and discarded it as he did not understand it.
He said the first he heard of his possible extradition was at the dawn raid on November 28 last year.
He also said his mental health has severely suffered over the past several years, living with anxiety and depression and taking a large amount of medication.
He added: “I’ve had five panic attacks this week. They’re unbearable, I can’t breathe, it feels like I’m having a heart attack.”
Natasha Draycott, representing Hodgson, said: “The requested person is scared for his safety.
“His nephews’ father said, while he admits it was hearsay, the victim’s family was identified as part of a criminal gang.
“There are concerns about his mental health and it is likely this will get worse in Portugal where he doesn’t speak the language.
“It can take one call to cause a problem..."
“He has serious concerns for his safety over there and his mental health would deteriorate.
“He has a six-year-old daughter who he sees regularly and two other children he is planning to adopt.
“I ask you to take into account the effect extradition will have on his partner and their family. I would ask you to find his extradition would be disproportionate to his punishment he has already faced.”
Ms Brown said: “He’s accepted he’s a fugitive and it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a matter of whether he was genuinely fearful of returning to Portugal or whether he wished to avoid proceedings.
“Either way, he has accepted he’s a fugitive.
“He said family life has been very difficult in his absence and I do not suggest there has been financial or emotional upset and that would continue in his extradition.
“This is a very serious offence duly given a seven-year sentence in Portugal.
“There is no medication he is currently receiving that couldn’t be given to him in Portugal. If he is extradited, that might lead to a decline in his mental health however the Portuguese authorities would be able to treat that.”
District Judge Gareth Branston reserved his decision until February 24.
He told Hodgson: "I’m going to take some time to consider my decision on your case.
“I will draft a judgment to be delivered by another judge on February 24.
“You’ll be brought back to this court. While I’m sure you will want to hear the results, If you chose to stay in prison, the judgment will still be handed down in your absence.”
Hodgson, wearing a white t-shirt and grey jogging bottoms, was supported in court by partner Sian Lovegrove and two friends.