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Asylum seeker admits benefit fraud

PUBLISHED: 08:00 13 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:55 03 March 2010

AN asylum seeker who claimed to have fled torture and imprisonment in his home country has been at the heart of a double benefit fraud in Ipswich.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich heard how Iraqi national Hemn Abdul-Rahman, made up a dual identity to double the benefits owed to him.

AN asylum seeker who claimed to have fled torture and imprisonment in his home country has been at the heart of a double benefit fraud in Ipswich.

South East Suffolk Magistrates' Court in Ipswich heard how Iraqi national Hemn Abdul-Rahman, made up a dual identity to double the benefits owed to him.

The court heard how the 25-year-old student made an application for political asylum – along with fingerprints - from a screening unit in Liverpool when he first entered the UK in December 2000.

But immigration officers smelt a rat when the same dabs showed up in an application made by a Howras Mohamad Abdulla in Felixstowe on April 9 2002.

Immigration officers swooped on the Wilbury House refugee centre in Norwich Road on May 4 where Abdul-Rahman was staying.

Prosecutor Ian Pells told the court: "He admitted making two claims and that the second one was false. While he maintained the second claim was made to avoid deportation, he also said he didn't come here to work. Abdul-Rahman admitted still receiving housing support in his real identity while being accommodated under a false name."

According to defender Naomi Turner, Abdul Rahman – who faces a prison sentence of up to two years for deception – was forced to use an alias only when his first appeal for asylum was turned down.

She described her client's fear of returning to the country where he had been imprisoned and tortured as a member of an anti-government party.

She said: "Both his sister and father had been detained. My client's claim for political asylum was legitimate. It was his fear of deportation, not the wish to defraud that made him make the second claim."

The court heard how Abdul-Rahman, who listened to proceedings through an interpreter, had been accommodated at public expense since April 10 at the cost of £130 a week while receiving housing benefit.

Abdul-Rahman pleaded guilty to seeking to remain in the UK by deception. Magistrate Fenella Blastland sent the case to Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing.


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