Court’s mercy over refugee smuggler bid

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A well-meaning Wigan restaurant boss was caught smuggling in a Syrian woman in the boot of his car.

Karwan Osman who was granted British citizenship after himself getting into the country on the back of a lorry, kept her hidden for 15 hours as he took a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull, a court heard.

But the woman, Jiham Yakob, was found in the boot of his BMW 5 Series during routine checks and Osman was arrested for people-smuggling.

This week the 29-year-old avoided jail after a judge said he acted “foolishly” to help a friend rather than being motivated by money.

Reacting to his suspended sentence on Facebook, Osman wrote: “I want to thank all my friends and family for all your support. I’m the luckiest person on the planet for having you around me there’s no words to describe my feeling right now.”

Osman had agreed to smuggle Ms Yakob into the UK as a favour to her husband, who lives in this country, after she fled war-torn Syria, Hull Crown Court heard. She has since sought asylum and is awaiting the outcome of her case.

Defending, Phillip Axon said: “He came to this country on the back of a lorry seeking asylum. He was feeling sorry for the female, knowing the dangers of jumping on the back of a lorry.” Osman admitted facilitating the illegal entry of a foreign national to the UK.

Judge Jeremy Richardson said the humanitarian crisis in Syria is “dire” and that Osman “took what you believed to be a merciful course”.

The judge said because he had illegally bypassed the normal political asylum regime he would have to be punished. But he added: “She had 15 hours cooped up in the boot of a car on the car deck of a ferry crossing the North Sea – 15 hours of torment, I have no doubt. But even that was doubtless better than the even greater torment of being on the back of a lorry being smuggled into this country by criminals. You were trying to do the right thing but went about it in comprehensively the wrong way.”