Child-sex offender spared deportation loses battle for detention damages

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A MAN who was part of a group of immigrants who lured local schoolgirls to a house for sex cannot be deported because he is a member of a “persecuted tribe”, it was disclosed at the High Court yesterday.

Jumaa Kater Saleh, now aged 24, went to court in a bid to claim damages for unlawful detention during the Government’s failed bid to send him back to Sudan.

Saleh was sentenced in May 2008 to four years’ detention in a young offenders’ institution for having sexual activity with a female under 16.

Saleh asked deputy High Court judge Philip Mott QC for a declaration that he had been wrongfully detained, entitling him to damages under human rights laws.

The judge, sitting at London’s High Court, said it was now accepted that Saleh was a member of a tribe in the Sudan, the Zaghawa, which was subject to widespread persecution and it was “not possible” to return him to Sudan.

Rejecting his application, Judge Mott ruled there was no evidence of him being held unlawfully or unreasonably at any time during the period he was detained and his case failed “on all grounds”.

The judge described how Saleh, who arrived in the UK in November 2004 hidden in a lorry, was one of a group of five immigrants who had lured schoolgirls to a house for sex, three of whom were aged 13 and one 14, and unprotected intercourse took place.

The judge said Saleh was convicted of two sample charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and he was sentenced on the basis that they were planned offences and he knew the girl’s age.

The trial judge had remarked that all three girls were “clearly disturbed and vulnerable, far from mature for their years and had been targeted by the group”.

In addition to the substantial custodial sentence, Saleh was recommended for deportation.

His application for asylum had been initially refused in January 2005. Because he was a minor, he was granted discretionary leave to remain in the country until his 18th birthday in October 2006.

Later he applied for permission to stay in the country longer. But in May 2007 he was arrested and charged with the sex offences.

When he became eligible for release after serving his sentence, he was further detained under the 2007 Borders Act pending moves to deport him “for the public good” because of the seriousness of his criminal offences.

He was eventually released from immigration detention in May 2011 after it was established that, under human rights laws that protect against inhuman and degrading treatment and risk to life, 
he could not be deported to Sudan because of the risk of persecution.