Fake passport gang is jailed

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A Burnley couple who ran an elaborate immigration scam and hid an illegal immigrant in their loft have been jailed.

Parents-of-four Shohidul and Anwara Islam had been arrested after a Bangladeshi national was found hiding in the loft of their home when immigration officers raided it, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Burnley travel agent owner Shohidul Islam (41) has been sent to prison for five-and-a-half years. His 39-year-old wife was jailed for two years and three months.

The couple, of Leamington Avenue, were sentenced at the court by Recorder Tania Griffiths, QC, last Friday.

Both defendants had been found guilty by a jury of assisting unlawful immigration to an EU member state.

Immigration officers raided their home and found illegal immigrant Shafik Miah hiding under a suitcase in the loft. The couple initially denied they knew he was there.

On searching the property, officers then found a bag containing a number of fake Bangladeshi, British passports and identity documents.

The couple had claimed in interview they were looking after the bag for their friend restaurateur Abdul Shahid (47) of Bar Street, Burnley.

Shahid was a frequent sponsor of Bangladeshi nationals seeking entry to the UK through his Bolton restaurant the Sunar Gaw.

The Islams and Shahid were found guilty on 11 fake passport charges. Shahid was sent to custody for two-and-a-half years.

Before the trial, Shahid’s nephew, Mohammed Uddin (42) had pleaded guilty to possession of a false National Insurance card and a false Bangladeshi passport.

The defendant, also of Bar Street, Burnley, didn’t attend the sentencing hearing and the judge jailed him for 58 weeks in his absence.