Legal proceedings over the aborted deportation of an African migrant who lured a vulnerable schoolgirl to a house for sex have cost the British taxpayer £350,000–and he may now receive tens of thousands in compensation.
Jumaa Kater Saleh, 24, was convicted as part of a predatory sex gang for the ‘deliberate, targeted abuse of a young and vulnerable girl’, who was aged 13 at the time.
But he was allowed to remain in Britain under human rights law because he faced mistreatment if sent back to Sudan.
He claimed he was a member of the Zaghawa tribe, which has been persecuted by government forces and Arab tribe militia.
His trial cost an estimated £100,000, his asylum support costs drained the public purse of £20,000 and it cost more than £200,000 to keep him detained, firstly in jail and then in an immigration centre.
The Sunday Telegraph reported the total cost of interpreters alone was £25,000.
Details of the case emerged as Saleh went to court to demand compensation from the Government for locking him up. He claimed he was unlawfully detained following his prison sentence, when he was kept behind bars to protect the public.
His case was thrown out in January but the Court of Appeal has now 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 decision has sparked outrage.
The father of Saleh’s victim called the decision ‘crazy’ and said his daughter would never be free of what happened to her.
He said: ‘He was a paedophile preying on young girls, yet he was only locked up for two years. What does he have to be compensated for?
‘The worst of it is that as taxpayers, me and her mother are paying for him to go through the court system and then we’ll end up contributing through our taxes to any compensation he gets–the man who did this to our girl.’
Tory MP Peter Bone added: ‘I take the very simple view that if someone comes to this country and then breaks the law then he should be sent back to where he comes from.
‘Any arguments about his human rights disappear when he has violated, violently, the rights of a young girl.’
Saleh arrived in the UK in November 2004 hidden in the back of a lorry.
In January 2005 he claimed asylum but this was rejected.
However, because he was under 18, he was allowed to remain until he reached adulthood in October 2006.
He was still in the country in May 2007, when arrested and charged with the sex offences. In February 2008, he was convicted of two charges of sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl.
He was in a group of five immigrants who lured schoolgirls–including three aged 13 and one aged 14–to a house for sex.
The judge at the trial had remarked that all three girls were ‘clearly disturbed and vulnerable, far from mature for their years and had been targeted by the group’.
Saleh was jailed for four years on the basis that the offences were planned and that he knew the girl’s age. The judge also recommended him for deportation.
However, at the end of his sentence immigration officials deemed that he should not be released as they tried to deport him ‘for the public good’.
He was let out in May 2011 after it was decided that he would face persecution if returned to Sudan, under protection against ‘inhuman and degrading treatment’ and risk to life. He now lives in Leicester.
Ruling against him in January, deputy High Court judge Philip Mott QC said he had not been unlawfully detained.
The judge, sitting at the High Court in London, accepted that Saleh was a member of the Zaghawa and so it was ‘not possible’ to return him to Sudan.
But he ruled there was no evidence of Saleh being held unlawfully or unreasonably at any time and his case failed ‘on all grounds’.
The judge said: ‘It was deliberate, targeted abuse of a young and vulnerable girl. The risk that the claimant, in his early-20s, would commit a further sexual offence if released… had to be considered as substantial.’
A Home Office spokesman said it was ‘disappointed’ and is looking at all its options over the Court of Appeal’s decision.
He added: ‘We believe it is right that dangerous individuals are kept in detention, wherever possible, in order to protect the public.
‘We will continue to seek to deport individuals who show a complete disregard for the laws of this country.’