A Jamaican drug dealer who tried to murder a policeman was one of 23 serious criminals to avoid deportation after 11th-hour legal challenges.
Michael Mitchell, 44, was sentenced to 25 years in jail after firing a gun from point-blank range at PC Shaun Callow, who had been pursuing him on foot.
The brave officer, who was not hit by the bullet, kept on chasing Mitchell and later arrested him after a violent struggle. PC Callow was nominated for a bravery award for his actions and heralded by the then chief of the Metropolitan Police.
Mitchell, who was due to be deported back to Jamaica in the early hours of Wednesday after serving half his sentence, was given a last-minute reprieve following a legal challenge along with 22 other serious criminals.
They included two rapists, Conrod Bryce and Jermaine Stewart, as well as murderer Michael Antonio White. The debacle came after 60 MPs, mainly from the Labour benches, wrote to Home Secretary Priti Patel asking for the deportation flight to be cancelled. Supermodel Naomi Campbell, Line Of Duty star Thandie Newton and James Bond actress Naomie Harris signed an open letter calling on travel firms not to operate such flights.
Michael Mitchell (left) and his accomplice Turhan Mah-Wing (left) were jailed at Inner London Crown Court
Meanwhile, legal teams representing the crooks began issuing last-ditch appeals – including for human rights and claims the criminals were victims of modern slavery – to allow them to stay in Britain.
Government officials have told of their fury over the opportunistic tactics used by immigration lawyers to halt the removal of the criminals.
They pointed to comments made last month by Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice, who said: ‘It is a matter of regret that a minority of lawyers have lent their professional weight and support to vexatious representations and abusive late legal challenges.’
A Home Office source said: ‘This is the issue the Home Secretary is most exercised about at the moment. She is absolutely furious and wants these foreign offenders to be removed from the country.’
In August 2008, Mitchell, of Streatham, South London, failed to stop his car for police and was pursued by PC Callow and his colleague PC Shona McKay in a patrol vehicle. The criminal abandoned his car and fled on foot, but was chased by PC Callow through a residential area in Tulse Hill, South London.
In a bid to shoot the officer, Mitchell took a handgun from his waistband and fired from just five yards away. The bullet missed and the policeman was able to carry on his chase while directing other officers to the scene.
PC Callow was nominated for a bravery award for his actions and heralded by the then chief of the Metropolitan Police
He found Mitchell hiding under a van in a nearby pub car park and detained him following a violent struggle. The crook was found to be in possession of a significant quantity of crack cocaine, cannabis and a knife, as well as the firearm.
PC Callow and PC McKay were later nominated for bravery awards for their pursuit and arrest of Mitchell, as well as his accomplice, Turhan Mah-Wing, then aged 21. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said at the time: ‘When members of the public are threatened it is police officers who turn up to help them.
‘These awards highlight just some of their great acts of bravery.’
Last night, police sources said of 39-year-old PC Callow, who is still a serving officer, that he was a ‘humble man’ who saw the pursuit as just ‘doing his job’. A colleague said they were ‘appalled’ to learn Mitchell had been given a last-minute reprieve and was not deported last week.
It can also be revealed that rapist Conrod Bryce, 43, from Romford, East London, was due to be deported until his lawyers won a last-minute appeal.
Bryce, who had been jailed for ten years, and another rapist Jermaine Stewart, a 37-year-old from Liverpool who was sentenced to six years behind bars for raping a woman who fell asleep on his sofa, were both given reprieves. Michael Antonio White, now in his 50s, was also removed from the flight having been jailed in 2003 for 18 years on charges of murder and attempted murder after he shot victim Sean Black six times in a drug deal that went wrong.
Lawyers for offenders removed from the flights have been criticised for posting celebratory messages on social media.
Solicitor Amer Zaman, who tweeted the words ‘what a result’ after his unnamed client was removed from the plane, said: ‘My client was a non-violent offender and nor was he convicted of any sexual crimes.
‘I carried out this work pro bono and the first I knew about the case was 18 hours before the flight took off. There are some bad apples in our profession who may try to play the system but in my experience the vast majority of lawyers act properly. They will not bring claims without merit because they fear the penalties and being reported to the regulator.’
Among the 13 criminals successfully deported were 51-year-old Gary Fitzroy James, a serial London-based crook who was sentenced to 26 years behind bars in 2007 for attempted murder.
Fitzroy Daley, convicted of manslaughter after stabbing a man to death following a scuffle in 2012, was also kicked out.
Murderers Paul Bingham and Ricardo Forbes, 49 and 52 respectively, and drug trafficker Jahral Jacobs, from West Bromwich, were also removed.
Thirty charter flights of foreign offenders have taken place this year while another flight to Jamaica in February sparked outrage when criminals, including rapists, were given a last-minute reprieve.