Justice for Michael Sandford: Clemency for Autism

by Lynne Sandford

Justice for Michael Sandford: Clemency for Autism

by Lynne Sandford
Funded
on 05th August 2016
£33,492
pledged of £50,000 stretch target from 1,033 pledges
Lynne Sandford
Case Owner
I am Lynne Sandford, a single parent.  I live in Dorking with my 4 year old daughter.  I live close to my mum who is my only surviving relative apart from my children.  My father and only brother died during my childhood.  My two children mean everything to me and I have devoted my life to them.  Not having Michael near us has left an enormous hole in our lives and we all want him to be near us as soon as possible.

Latest: Nov. 29, 2016

New campaign launched

Pledge to the new campaign >>

Thank you so much for contributing to my son Michael’s appeal.  I cannot express sufficiently my deep appreciation of your generosity.  We have a ...

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Legal Update - 3 September
 
Lynne Sandford and Saimo Chahal QC (hon) of Bindmans  LLP will be meeting with Michael Sandford at the court house in Las Vegas for the face to face interview which was ordered by the Judge.  That meeting will take place at 10:00am on Thursday 8 September 2016, (Las Vegas time) and will last for over an hour.  A second face to face meeting will  take place  at 10:00am on Friday 9 September 2016.  The meeting will discuss legal issues arising from Michael’s case.
 
Around 1pm (Las Vegas time) on Saturday and Sunday 10 and 11 September 2016, Lynne, together with Michael’s 4 year old sister, Jessica and grandmother, Christine will be having a video link meeting with Michael at the Detention Centre.
 
Saimo Chahal said “I am looking forward to meeting with Michael at last and discussing various legal issues with him and his lawyers in Las Vegas.”
 
Lynne Sandford said, “I’m incredibly excited about seeing Michael but also worried about the condition that he will be in.  Recent telephone calls to me suggest that Michael is very unwell, both in terms of his physical as well as his mental health and he needs all the support, love and attention his family can give him”.

Please help me to bring my 20 year old autistic son Michael home from prison in the USA.

On 18th June 2016, Michael - an autistic man, who has also been diagnosed with OCD and severe depression - was arrested in Las Vegas for attempting to grab a policeman’s gun at a Donald Trump rally. 


He later told police he had wanted to kill Mr Trump and had hoped he would die in the process. 


If found guilty of the charges, Michael could face up to 30 years in prison in the USA. He is now shackled and handcuffed in a US mainstream prison, and has been put on suicide watch.


I am not asking for my son to escape punishment for what he attempted to do. But because of his severe mental health problems, his family, who love him very much, want him returned to the UK.  We want him to serve his sentence in a safe institution for vulnerable people, where he can receive appropriate help and be closer to his family. 


I am Lynne Sandford, Michael’s mother. Michael has a 4 year old sister and grandmother who love him very much and want him home. Michael was clearly very ill when he was in Las Vegas. He had been missing for months and we had asked the US authorities a number of times to help us locate him but had no luck.

When we heard the news of Michael’s arrest we were shocked and horrified. We could not equate Michael with what he had attempted to do. All of his life we have known him as a calm, sweet, caring and gentle person who has struggled bravely with mental health issues from when he was a little boy.


When Michael was 14 he attempted to commit suicide and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act. We fear if he has to serve his sentence in the US, so far away from the family who will always adore him, as we struggle to come to terms with the enormity of what he now faces, we fear  he will attempt to take his life again. We know that he is currently on suicide watch which is fulfilling our fears. I believe Michael would be totally unable to deal with the threats and stresses in a mainstream US prison. I want to do all that is in my power as a parent to help Michael - I cannot give up on him now when he needs me the most.


We are now being advised in the UK by Saimo Chahal QC (Hon), a distinguished human rights lawyer known for her handling of complex and ground breaking cases. She is a Partner at leading law firm, Bindmans LLP. Contact: S.Chahal@bindmans.com 


More about Michael

This is a poem Michael wrote to me after an argument.


This is an email that Michael sent to an airline company when he was 15 years old discussing his ideas about how to improve inflight passenger safety.


What we need your help for:

We now face a difficult and expensive legal battle to get Michael home. Please, please help us to raise funds: to visit him with our UK lawyer, try to influence the legal process in the States, to try and get a good lawyer for him there, to get a psychiatric assessment for him and  to put pressure on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to help him and to try and get him transferred either through the mental health system or the prison system back home. 


For this work we need to raise at least £25,000.


You are my only hope and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support for this vulnerable young man.  


Lynne Sandford




About the claimant

I am Lynne Sandford, a single parent.  I live in Dorking with my 4 year old daughter.  I live close to my mum who is my only surviving relative apart from my children.  My father and only brother died during my childhood.  My two children mean everything to me and I have devoted my life to them.  Not having Michael near us has left an enormous hole in our lives and we all want him to be near us as soon as possible.

Fast facts

My son Michael has been charged in Nevada with 3 offences that have a potential punishment of 30 years imprisonment in a US mainstream prison.

Michael has autistic spectrum disorder and is currently on suicide watch.  I want Michael to serve his sentence in the UK.

Saimo Chahal QC (Hon) is advising me in the UK.

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Update 5

Lynne Sandford

Nov. 29, 2016

New campaign launched

Pledge to the new campaign >>

Thank you so much for contributing to my son Michael’s appeal.  I cannot express sufficiently my deep appreciation of your generosity.  We have a fantastic legal team supporting us and I believe they have helped his case enormously. 

Michael is being sentenced in the US on 13th December.  During his time in prison in the last 6 months, Michael has suffered terribly and I have been helpless to improve his circumstances.  You will remember that Michael has a multitude of severe and complex health problems making him extremely vulnerable (autism, OCD, depression, anxiety, heart complaint, past anorexia). Once he is sentenced, we can apply for him to be transferred to a UK prison.  I, my mother and Michael’s little sister will be able to visit him more frequently and as a result, I hope that Michael will stop feeling suicidal.   I also believe that he will be safer in a UK prison.  Any normal person would find his experiences a nightmare to deal with but Michael’s autism makes him constantly scared as he does not have the sophisticated thought processes to be able to rationalise his circumstances.

I am looking to raise more money to pay for the legal process to get him transferred him back to the UK.  I know that money is extremely limited at Christmas time and I am not asking for people to contribute who cannot afford to.  However, if you could help Michael, I would be enormously grateful. 

You contribute at Michael’s new fundraising page at www.crowdjustice.org/case/bring-michael-sandford-home

Update 4

Lynne Sandford

Sept. 5, 2016

Legal Update

Lynne Sandford and Saimo Chahal QC (hon) of Bindmans  LLP will be meeting with Michael Sandford at the court house in Las Vegas for the face to face interview which was ordered by the Judge.  That meeting will take place at 10:00am on Thursday 8 September 2016, (Las Vegas time) and will last for over an hour.  A second face to face meeting will  take place  at 10:00am on Friday 9 September 2016.  The meeting will discuss legal issues arising from Michael’s case.

Around 1pm (Las Vegas time) on Saturday and Sunday 10 and 11 September 2016, Lynne, together with Michael’s 4 year old sister, Jessica and grandmother, Christine will be having a video link meeting with Michael at the Detention Centre.

Saimo Chahal said “I am looking forward to meeting with Michael at last and discussing various legal issues with him and his lawyers in Las Vegas.”

Lynne Sandford said, “I’m incredibly excited about seeing Michael but also worried about the condition that he will be in.  Recent telephone calls to me suggest that Michael is very unwell, both in terms of his physical as well as his mental health and he needs all the support, love and attention his family can give him”.

Update 3

Lynne Sandford

Aug. 24, 2016

Legal Update

Just after 9:30 pm last night (11:30- Las Vegas time) we received confirmation of the decision of the District Court of Nevada on the application for face to face contact made by Michael’s US lawyers at our request.

Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach ORDERED that the request for an in-person visitation is GRANTED to the extent that the attorneys in the case and Lynne Sandford, mother and UK attorney Saimo Chahal may meet together with Michael Sandford.

Saimo Chahal QC (Hon) said:

“ This is very good news indeed.  I understand from Michael’s US lawyers that both the request and grant are wholly exceptional. Lynne and I will be making plans to visit Michael now at this critical time when Michael has to decide on some difficult issues about plea bargaining and the trial.  We will offer him advice and support to make these  decisions.  There is little doubt that Michael was very unwell at the time that he committed the offence.”

Lynne Sandford said:

“ I am over the moon that I can finally see Michael. It has been a very traumatic time for Michael and I hear his pain and misery every time he is able to call me. I am desperate to ensure that Michael’s sister and grandmother can also have contact- albeit they will only have video link contact from a facility nearby – the family support is vital to keep Michael going as he has talked often of just giving up. We don’t want to lose Michael- that would be the most awful thing in the world for us. I am hoping that we can raise money for Jessica and Michael’s grandmother to visit Michael too, with us. Thank you in advance for any help you can give us though Crowdjustice”

Update 2

Lynne Sandford

Aug. 16, 2016

Legal update

  • Michael’s trial has been put back to 3 October 2016. The State has still not indicated what charges they will press for.
  • We have also asked the lawyers in Las Vegas to make an application for a face to face visit to see Michael for his UK lawyer, Saimo Chahal and his mother, Lynne Sandford which is to be heard by District Judge Cam Ferenbach at 11:00am, (Las Vegas time) on 23 August 2016.
  • Face to face interviews with prisoners in this detention centre are rare as such interviews are normally carried out by video link from outside of the prison. We eagerly await the outcome of this motion. Michael’s family are desperate to visit and to give him support.
  • We continue to gather medical evidence to support Michael’s mental condition before and at the time that he committed the offence.

 

We will keep you posted with other developments as they arise.

Update 1

Lynne Sandford

Aug. 5, 2016

Funded

We hit our first target!

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