Sierra Leonean mother, 44, who used false ID to live in a council flat in UK for 10 years and swindle £164,000 in benefits was not deported – ‘but is now applying to stay using her REAL name’
- Aminata Bangura, 44, used a bogus identity to obtain a council flat in Britain
- The single mother was moved up the council waiting list after having her son
- Bangura, from Camberwell, was sentenced to two years imprisonment in May
- It was then revealed that Bangura had swindled £164,000 in bogus handouts
Aminata Bangura is pictured arriving at Inner London Crown Court on Tuesday
A Sierra Leone fraudster who used a bogus identity to get UK residency and swindle over £164,000 in benefits is still demanding to remain in Britain, a court heard.
Aminata Bangura, 44, was refused leave to remain as a student in 2004, but won her Home Office case under a fraudulent name.
The single mother was moved up the council waiting list after having a son, now aged ten, who needs lifelong NHS care.
Bangura, of Camberwell, was sentenced to two years imprisonment in May last year for the immigration offences, but was released after eight months.
Yesterday, Judge Silas Reid questioned why she had not been automatically deported as a non-UK resident who had received over twelve months imprisonment.
The judge was sentencing Bangura for a Southwark council benefits scam that came to light after her prison sentence.
‘She’s a Sierra Leone citizen so what’s going on there with automatic deportation that should have followed sentencing?’ he asked.
‘I thought people were kept in custody. The Home Office have obviously decided she can have her liberty,’ he added.
‘The Home Office is still processing her application for leave to remain,’ said Mr Edward Duncan-Smith, defending. ‘It did not take any steps to detain her.’
Bangura pleaded guilty to three new charges of fraud by false representation i; housing benefit and council tax benefit by using the false name of Marie Buli.
She applied for the benefits from March 2008 and collected approximately £64,100, the court heard.
Bangura was sentenced to ten months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered to complete 80 hours community service
The sentence she received last May included fraudulently obtaining a £50,000 student loan, plus around £50,000 in working tax credits, child tax credits and child benefit.
Prosecutor Orlando Gibbons told Inner London Crown Court: ‘The Crown say it was sophisticated. She planned it.’
Mr Duncan-Smith claimed Bangura was under the control of the father of her son when committing the offences and was of good character before the scam.
‘She has been used by a dominant male, who used her to line his own pockets,’ said the lawyer. ‘She has served a year in custody and it had a profound effect on her.’
However, this was not accepted by Judge Reid, who said: ‘I am not impressed by you saying she has no criminal convictions when she has been doing this for ten years.
‘She is here for offences for which she should go back to prison.
‘This is her stealing from the state so she can live. She is not entitled to be in the country from what I can see.’
The probation service even limited the number of community service hours they recommended because Bangura can’t afford to travel to their projects.
The judge told her: ‘You illegally came to this country and lived under a false identity for a decade and applied for benefits you continued to receive until you were sent to prison.
‘You were given a council flat and all this money was stolen from the public and you had no right to that money or to be in this country.
‘You knew you were stealing this money and could have said it at the time when you were sent to prison to make a clean sweep.
‘I take into account your genuine remorse and the fact that apart from this there there has been no other offending and you are caring for and are the sole parent of your ten year-old son.
‘I am not going to put you back in prison and take you away from your son today.’
Bangura was sentenced to ten months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months and ordered to complete 80 hours community service.
‘You stole from this country so you have to pay something back,’ the judge told her.