A convicted Polish criminal walked free from court yesterday after a judge criticised West Midlands Police for blunders which meant he could not be extradited.

Krystian Kujawa, 21, had been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by a Polish court for burgling a shop, but he escaped to the UK before he could be locked up.

He was arrested in Coventry for possession of an offensive weapon and police realised the Polish authorities had issued an international arrest warrant for him.

But their lack of knowledge of extradition law led to delays in Kujawa being brought before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court which specialises in such cases, the court was told.

District Judge Quentin Purdy said he was forced to order the Pole's immediate release as he had not been brought before an appropriate court "as soon as practicable".

The judge added: "It is slightly troubling to know that the West Midlands, one of the biggest forces, doesn't know what they are doing with that."

Rosie Davidson, prosecuting, said Kujawa had been sentenced in his absence for breaking into a shop. Authorities issued a European Arrest Warrant on March 28 after they realised he had fled the jurisdiction.