Deportation looms for athlete who won gold for UK

Wheelchair-bound power-lifter to be sent back to Nigeria

A disabled athlete who has won five gold medals for Britain was set to be deported to Nigeria last night after losing his legal battle to live in the UK.

Vincent Onwubiko, 42, a power-lifter from Lewisham, in south-east London, represented Britain at the Stoke Mandeville Games in 1995 and 1997 and at the World Champion of Champions competition in Birmingham in 1996.

He came to the UK in 1994 and is married to a British citizen with whom he has an 11-year-old daughter.

But in 2007 Mr Onwubiko was sentenced to five months in prison for driving while disqualified after twice being convicted of careless driving, once after jumping a red light.

At the end of his sentence Mr Onwubiko, who is wheelchair-bound as a result of polio, was arrested and taken to Dover Immigration Removal Centre, which he claims would not admit him because he does not have the use of his legs.

Instead he was taken to Brixton prison in south London. In January 2008, he was granted bail, but re-arrested last August after being called in for an interview, and has been in detention ever since.

His removal on a Virgin Atlantic flight was set for 10.30pm last night from Heathrow's Terminal 3.

But yesterday his supporters claimed lawyers had successfully won an injunction against his removal and that his case was still before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Ellie Schling, who has been campaigning for Mr Onwubiko to be allowed to stay in the UK, said: "His physical condition is deteriorating while he is being held in Brixton Prison and he has not got access to the hospital or medical care he needs."

She added: "Vincent is seeking release to an address in Lewisham pending the resolution of outstanding legal cases. He says that no criminal prosecution is being pursued against him and that the Home Office is simply seeking to have him removed from the UK."

Glyn Hibbert, director of the British Wheelchair Sports Foundation, has described Mr Onwubiko as an "excellent weightlifter and a decent young man". He said that, if the Home Office had granted him papers to obtain a visa, Mr Onwubiko would have been part of the GB team at the Paralympic Games in Atlanta in 1996.

Last night the Home Office said it was unaware of any outstanding legal action that prevented his removal from Britain.

David Wood, head of criminality and detentions at the UK Border Agency, said: "In light of a number of criminal convictions, Vincent Onwubiko was notified on 13 November 2007 of a decision to make a deportation order against him. We have fully considered his case and made sure that his human rights are not breached. This decision has been reviewed and upheld by an immigration judge. The UK Border Agency has not been presented with a European Court of Human Rights injunction preventing his removal and we have not received any new representations from either Mr Onwubiko or his representatives."

It is not the first time a disabled person has been deported. In the summer, the disability network Radar wrote to Home Secretary Alan Johnson to try to stop the deportation of a disabled failed asylum seeker, Abbas Sharifi, arguing that he would not get support for his mental health problems in his home country, Afghanistan.

Chief executive, Liz Sayce, said that there was a "very strong and compelling case" for Mr Sharifi, 49, to remain in the UK, but he was deported in August.

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone