An NHS nurse is deeply concerned over the ‘aggressive’ treatment her husband has been receiving from staff at a London detention centre, where he faces deportation to Jamaica.
Damion Thompson, 43, has been detained at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport for over two weeks now and is among a group of Jamaican nationals who are set to be deported by the Home Office for criminal convictions that were committed in the past.
A charter flight, which took off from London Stansted Airport at 1am on Wednesday (August 11), had as little as 10 out of 50 people on board due to cancelled tickets, My London understands.
READ MORE:Dad-of-four, 31, being deported to Jamaica in matter of hours and ‘won’t see family before he flies’
Damion, Rebecca and Linda
(Image: Linda Rose)
Despite obtaining a temporary injunction meaning he cannot fly until his case has been reviewed, Damion was allegedly subjected to hostile treatment by security guards on Tuesday (August 10) afternoon as they tried to remove him from his cell, according to his wife Linda Rose.
Linda, 53, who is a mental health nurse for the NHS, recalled the ‘really awful’ ordeal as she listened over the phone all the way from their family home in Leeds.
Linda told My London: “It was a very challenging conversation, the group of staff were behaving quite aggressively to the inmates because it was their responsibility to get them on the coach and then on the flight.
“But they weren’t prepared to listen, Damion had his solicitor on the phone but the staff said they’d get security guards to up their numbers to remove him from his cell if he wouldn’t go with them. All I thought is that we could end up in a situation where I’ll be told he’s ended up injured.”
Damion and his son
(Image: Linda Rose)
In 2011, Damion was jailed for possession of a controlled class A drug and possession of criminal property. He served a total of 14 months inside but has been described by Linda as a ‘reformed man’ with no concerns from his probation officers.
Linda admits that it feels like Damion has been serving a ‘life sentence’ ever since he was released from prison in September 2012.
She said: “Not only has Damion served a two year sentence, but being detained and what he’s been through over the last few years starts to feel like a life sentence. You’re still incarcerated in your home and in the detention centre. When will it end? It feels never-ending.
” The Home Office use language to describe people as ‘foreign criminals’ and ‘dangerous offenders’ – of course there are people out there that are dangerous offenders, but this kind of language doesn’t appropriately describe the individuals we are talking about.
“Rather than use a blanket sweeping statement to describe and destroy those characters, Damion is in no way any danger to society whatsoever, the way he’s behaved over the past nine years is evidence of that.”
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The father-of-two first arrived in the UK aged 21 in October 2000. On Monday (August 9), Damion told Britain’s only Afro-Caribbean newspaper The Voice, that he was given away as a chid and has no family in Jamaica to go back to.
He met future wife, Linda, in a Birmingham nightclub a year later, and has been a step-father to Linda’s 21-year-old daughter Rebecca ever since she was 18 months old. He also has a son, aged 20, who lives in Birmingham.
Since his 2012 release, Damion’s love for football has helped his mental health massively, and he’s learnt how to complete handyman jobs around the house through studying and watching YouTube videos.
Linda adds: “Damion did a really good job with the shower and sink, he’s become a good handyman around the house when we can’t afford to pay other people to come and do work in the house. It’s stuff like that that’s filled his time and helped his mental health.
“We’ve been able to give him activities to keep him going over the last 10 years, it could have been soul destroying to have someone sit there and not feel like they’re a useful part of society. We’ve had a hard time but we’ve managed to keep it together.”
The charter flight to Jamaica took off at 1am on Wednesday (August 11)
But the past two weeks inside the centre have taken a serious toll on Damion’s mental health, and he’s been unable to see his family in person, Linda says.
Another concern of Linda’s is that Colnbrook has allegedly failed to provide a culturally appropriate diet for Damion, who follows a healthy Jamaican diet. Linda says Damion was once denied two pieces of fruit at breakfast time.
“The first day Damian was in there, I couldn’t believe what he told me he had for breakfast,” she said. “He normally eats a lot of fruit, his nickname is ‘the fruit man’ because he eats a healthy Jamaican diet. When he went for breakfast, he asked for a banana and an orange, but was told he can have just one fruit at breakfast and not both.
“You think to yourself, why are you treating people like this? It’s awful. Nobody’s asking for a five-star menu, they’re just asking for basic nutritional food but they’re just not able to access it easily. That’s the kind of attitude they come against when asking for two pieces of fruit at breakfast.”
The charter flight departed with no more than 10 Jamaican nationals on board
(Image: Phil Harris / The Mirror)
Linda is extremely concerned that her husband will be vulnerable to gang violence and homelessness if he is deported to Jamaica. She believes he has served his time and has ‘paid the price’ of his crime.
She added: “Damion can’t work, drive and has no freedom of movement for the past 10 years, what does that do to a Black man’s self-esteem? Yes Damion still didn’t reoffend.”
Following yesterday’s chaotic removal of Jamaican nationals from their detention cells, Damion is one of many detainees who will be held in Colnbrook while he and his family await communication from the Home Office.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We only ever return those with no legal right to remain in the UK, including foreign national offenders.
“The health and welfare of those in our care is of the utmost importance and all those in Immigration Removal Centres are provided with nutritional food, in line with their cultural or religious requirements.
“Those held in IRCs are allowed social and legal visits are allowed to take place. All visiting individuals will be required to take a lateral flow test and obtain a negative result as a condition of entry and social distancing measures and the wearing of face masks will apply for all visitors.”
If you know of someone in London facing deportation, let us know their story by emailing Ruby at [email protected] plc.com