Foreign sex offender wins damages

Justice Saleh claimed asylum after arriving in the UK aged 16 in 2004

A foreign sex-offender has won the right to damages because he was held in custody too long following unsuccessful attempts to deport him.

Jumaa Kater Saleh, 25, from Sudan, was detained for two years, pending deportation, after completing a four-year sentence.

He was convicted after being part of a group of five men who lured under-age girls to a house for sex.

The Court of Appeal ruled that eight months of his detention was unlawful.

The judges decided he was entitled to compensation as a result of Home Office administrative delays before it was decided that he could not be deported on human rights grounds.

The court ruled: "His past criminal offending, of itself, cannot be any justification for implementing or extending his time in immigration detention".

The judges said the administrative delays were unaccounted for - "the lack of any explanation makes difficult to hold that the period of detention was reasonable".

'Lured schoolgirls'

Saleh, who lived in Leicester after his release, successfully appealed against a ruling by deputy High Court judge Philip Mott QC in January dismissing his compensation claim on all grounds.

But Lord Dyson, Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice McFarlane and Lady Justice Sharp, unanimously ruled his appeal must succeed and damages decided.

Saleh arrived in the UK in November 2004, aged 16, hidden in the back of a lorry. He claimed asylum based on the fact that he was a member of the Zaghawa tribe from Darfur and his family were subjected to intolerable treatment by the majority population of the area.

His claim was rejected but he was given discretionary leave to remain in the UK until his 18th birthday.

On 5 May 2007 he was arrested and charged with serious sexual offences against children.

He was convicted of two "sample" offences of sexual activity with a 13-year-old schoolgirl on 8 May 2008 sentenced to four years in a young offenders' institution.

The trial judge said: "He, together with four others, had lured schoolgirls to a house for the purposes of sexual activity. The three girls involved were aged 13 or 14."

'Unreasonable delays'

Saleh was automatically regarded as a candidate for deportation under the UK Borders Act 2007 as a foreign criminal.

He was released from his prison sentence on 8 May 2009, but continued to be detained for a further two years pending further consideration as to whether he should be deported.

In February 2011, a first-tier immigration tribunal concluded there was "overwhelming evidence" that Saleh was a Zaghawan from Darfur, and his appeal against automatic deportation was allowed on human rights grounds.

During the 12-month period, from August 2009 to August 2010, when his bid to avoid automatic deportation was under consideration, "administrative activity" in the case was "unaccounted for".

The judge said: "The secretary of state has wholly failed to file any evidence purporting to provide an account for those periods."

He also said case law meant that people facing deportation could only be held under immigration laws while there was a realistic prospect of removal, and it was unlawful to continue holding them because of unreasonable delays in processing their cases.

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