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Saturday, 27 December 2014

Using False Names: Family Of Five Faces Deportation

A COUPLE from Blackburn cheated the taxpayer out of more than £134,000 as part of an asylum scam, a court was told.

Mohammad, 40,and Zenabibbi Wadiwala, 42, used false names in their bid to remain in the UK after fleeing religious turmoil in their native India.

It was six years before the true identities of the pair – known to the authorities by fake names Jakir and Shabnam Sheikh – were uncovered by Immigration Service investigators in the UK, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The couple, who have five children, three of whom were born in Britain, could now be deported.

The Wadiwalas, of Oaklands Terrace, have already had a number of asylum appeals under their false names turned down by the Home Office, the court heard.

Prosecutor Stephen Wild said that when the couple arrived in Britain in 2006 they claimed they had arrived on the back of a truck from Paris, before making a claim for asylum at a screening centre in Croydon.

The couple gave the same false names and dates of birth for their two children.

The Wadiwalas were given ‘application registration cards’ and received assistance in the form of accommodation and other benefits, not including free legal advice and health care, totalling £134,438 up to 2012. But they had also received another £40,000 in benefits since then.

The couple, who each admitted one charge of fraud and two offences of possession of false identification documents, were given two-year prison sentences, suspended for two years. Mohammad was also given 200 hours community service.

The Court was told the pair had fled from persecution in the Kashmir region, after Zenabibbi escaped a violent marriage to a Hindu man and married Mohammad, who is a Muslim.

They were targeted by extremists, physically attacked and even forced out of their jobs, the court heard.

Defence counsel Kenneth Hind said that Zenabibbi suffered from severe epilepsy, arthritis and spina bifida, resulting in her husband caring for both her and their five children.

“It was the fear of being sent back to India which motivated what they did,” said Mr Hind, who said that the couple had been poorly advised by Mohammad’s brother in carrying out the initial deception, where they destroyed their original passports.

“They came to Britain and did two silly things,” he said. “The first was to destroy their passports and the second was to listen to people who were giving them bad advice.”

Passing sentence, Judge Michael Leeming QC said the pair had engaged in a ‘sophisticated’ and persistent fraud which was deserving of a prison sentence but he had taken their personal circumstances into account.

The court heard that Mohammad looked after their five children, who are aged between one and eight years old, because of his wife’s physical condition. The couple had also received support within the local community.

Mr Hind said that the only avenue open to the family, if the husband was jailed, would be to put the youngsters in the care of social services.

The court heard that their leave to remain in the UK, which had previously ran until 2015, had now been revoked and they could face removal by the immigration services. Blackburn News

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