In July we exclusively revealed that a Polish national had been bailed to live at a Travelodge in Bedford while he fought extradition to Poland to face charges of sexual exploitation of a child and child pornography. He could face 10 years in prison if convicted of abusing a child aged under 15 between 2002 and 2004, and of possessing sexual images of children.
However, Jacek Witkowski, 72, could not be named after Westminster Magistrates’ Court approved his extradition as he had applied to the court for anonymity with his lawyers claiming he was suffering from mental health problems and at risk of suicide.
The court had earlier bailed the Polish pensioner to live at the Bedford hotel on April 14, after he left a residential address in the city, alongside unsuspecting families who could also book rooms at the hotel.
He was arrested by police in September 2021 on a European Arrest Warrant from Poland and initially remanded in custody by Westminster magistrates while he fought extradition.
Within days he was released on conditional bail to live at a residential address in Bedford after paying a £2,000 security and surrendering his expired Polish passport. He remained there until the hearing in April, when the court changed his bail to live at the Travelodge.
Bedford Borough Council is understood to have housed him at the hotel after he became homeless following a relationship breakdown and attempted suicide.
However, the court approved him to stay there during the case on conditional bail provided he surrendered his passport, would not go to any international travel hubs and was under an electronically-monitored curfew from 11pm to 1am.
Travelodge officials said they had no idea the man was facing child sex allegations when he was accepted as a long-term guest in accommodation.
A Travelodge spokesman said: “The safety and security of our customers and staff is of paramount importance to us.
“We can confirm that we do not have agreements in place to provide bail accommodation and that he is no longer staying in our hotel.”
In July, District Judge Grace Leong said he could be extradited.
She wrote in her judgement: “The UK should not be seen as a safe haven to those who are wanted to serve a sentence or to stand trial.
“I have found (Witkowski) to be a fugitive who has been evading the judicial authorities for a number of years.
The course of sustained sexual offending over a few years on a very young child who is vulnerable as a result of (their) age could not be more serious.”
Witkowski is now in custody awaiting extradition.
After the ruling he lodged an appeal at the court which was transferred to the High Court, amid claims if he were identified it could put him at risk of further suicide attempts.
However, the Sunday Express argued that there were other extradition cases where requested people had attempted suicide and suffered mental health problems, but they had been named and it was in the public interest for him to be identified due to the serious nature of the allegations.
Mr Justice Wall, ruling in the anonymity application, said: “He has mental health issues but not such as would warrant his name being withheld.”