Judge ends Sheffield student extradition threat

Legal battle: Richard O'Dwyer and his mother Julia.
Legal battle: Richard O'Dwyer and his mother Julia.

A TOP judge has quashed the Home Secretary’s order for the extradition of a Sheffield student to the US to face accusations of breaking copyright laws.

Richard O’Dwyer, who is a student at Sheffield Hallam University, faced prosecution over the film and TV show file-sharing website TVShack he set up as a teenager.

Last week, the student voluntarily flew to New York and entered into a ‘deferred prosecution’ agreement before a US judge and promised to ‘refrain from violation of any US law’ in the future.

It ended the extradition threat, but Mr O’Dwyer, aged 24, still maintains he never committed any crimes.

He agreed at the New York Southern District Court to pay £20,000 to the Motion Picture Association of America to compensate the ‘victims’ of his alleged copyright infringement.

Now Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen’s Bench Division, has formally quashed the extradition order at London’s High Court, saying: “This cannot be anything other than an extremely satisfactory outcome for everyone concerned.”

Julia O’Dwyer, from Chesterfield, Mr O’Dwyer’s mother, who flew to New York with her son, was also at the High Court for the final scene of her family’s extradition battle.

She said: “We are delighted the matter is closed now.

“The New York hearing and signing the agreement only lasted five minutes, but it was the best five minutes we have had for a couple of years.”

Mrs O’Dwyer said her son had not attended the High Court hearing this week, because he was ‘knuckling down’ to his degree course in interactive media with animation.

Home Secretary Theresa May agreed to Mr O’Dwyer’s surrender after a court ruled in January his extradition would be lawful.

Mr O’Dwyer was facing the prospect of being the first British citizen to be extradited for such an alleged copyright offence and his lawyers argued he would effectively become a ‘guinea pig’ for copyright law in the US.