Family sentenced for sham marriage plots

Bagh Ali, 82, at Leeds Crown Court
Bagh Ali, 82, at Leeds Crown Court

A CUNNING and devious’ father used the identities of his first wife’s children to bring his second wife’s son and daughter to Halifax.

Bagh Ali, 82, was told he would have faced two years in prison for being the ‘prime mover’ in the plot were it not for his age and health problems.

But he and ex-wife Rehana Awan, 44, were spared jail yesterday.

Ali arranged for Awan’s children, Iram Shazadi and Usman Khan, to come to the country using his previous wife’s passport, which he had kept after they divorced.

Shazadi then married her own older brother Rizwan Khan in a sham ceremony so he too could come to the UK to join them.

Leeds Crown Court heard Awan and Ali, who has British citizenship, were married in Pakistan in 1995.

After the wedding she made repeated attempts to obtain UK citizenship, before finally arriving as a visitor in 2001.

She was eventually given discretionary leave to remain.

The plot started in 2003 when the couple were living in Shalimar Street in Halifax and Awan’s two teenage children were brought over.

After their arrival, Awan fraudulently claimed £17,500 in child tax credits and child benefit payments.

The couple divorced in 2005 and Awan later married Ali’s brother.

As she got older Shazadi, now 22, used her false identity to obtain a mortgage to purchase a house in Halton Moor Avenue, Leeds.

She also used it to claim council tax benefit and welfare benefits, which included income support and carer’s allowance totalling around £15,000.

She was also deemed exempt from her course fees of £680 at Leeds City College due to the benefits she fraudulently claimed.

Her brother and ‘husband’ Rizwan Khan, 25, used his illegally gained status to fraudulently claim job seekers’ allowance of more than £3,000.

Their other brother Usman, 23, used his false identity to illegally obtain two driving licences in both his real and assumed name.

He also opened a HSBC bank account under a false name while on bail for the other offences.

Barristers representing the family said they had been desperate to get the children out of Pakistan, where their father had been shot dead when they were young.

They told the court they had been subjected to “appalling” abuse at the hands of relatives.

Judge Kerry Macgill sentenced Rizwan to 15 months in prison and Usman to 14 months.

Shazadi, who has a four-month-old baby, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Her mother, Awan, who has three children with learning disabilities who she cares for, was sentenced to 10 months, suspended for two years.

Both women must carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work each.

Ali, who is in poor health and complained of chest pains during the hearing, was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years.

Judge Macgill said: “Within the family a careful and orchestrated plan was hatched for at least two of your children to come to the UK by hook or by crook.”

He added: “In one way or another all five of you perpetrated deception.”

Steve Lamb, of UK Border Agency, said: “This family has systematically committed immigration and benefit fraud. They have also shown a complete disregard for the marriage system.

“Immigration crime is not victimless. It defrauds the public purse out of huge sums of money at a time when the country can least afford it.

“Our teams will continue to clamp down on those who seek to abuse the system. The message to those involved is clear – we will catch you and you will face stiff penalties.”