Ipswich mother's deportation fight

AN Ipswich mother is today on the verge of being separated from her daughter and deported thousands of miles from home because she tried to shoplift £160 worth of clothing.

AN Ipswich mother is today on the verge of being separated from her daughter and deported thousands of miles from home because she tried to shoplift £160 worth of clothing.

Zyanya Brooks is being held in an immigration detention centre pending an appeal against deportation by the Government.

She has been in Home Office custody for more than four weeks after serving half of a 28-day prison sentence for the shoplifting offences at Ipswich Monsoon and Gap stores.

She faces being deported to Samoa, which she left 16 years ago, aged seven, and locked out of Britain for good.

Miss Brooks is now desperately fighting deportation, arguing she should be allowed to stay with her five-year-old daughter, 13-year-old step-daughter and her father and brother, who all live in England.

Today, the 23-year-old's concerned father attacked the government for deporting his daughter on the back of revelations that more than 1,000 convicted criminals, including some serious offenders like rapists and murderers, had not been considered for deportation by the Home Office.

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Richard Brooks, of Vernon Street, Ipswich, said: “This is purely a knee-jerk reaction.

“Because of the publicity they've had regarding serious offenders and illegal immigrants getting out for rape, armed robbery and murder and not being deported they're trying to make the numbers up.

“She's not exactly a violent young girl, she's just a tearaway. This could be compared to stealing a square of bread 200 years ago, being shackled and sent to Botany Bay.

“In modern terms this is what we're talking about. Is this deportation or transportation? She's being used as a scapegoat.”

Neil Saunders, an Ipswich criminal solicitor who has represented Miss Brooks, of Roebeck Road, accused the government of being “too harsh” and said it was simply trying to “get rid of the problem”.

From Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire, Miss Brooks, a self-confessed petty criminal, told The Evening Star: “Ipswich is my home. I haven't got anything out there. My life is here.

“I am scared of not living with my dad and my kids, that is all I know.

“Everybody makes a couple of mistakes in their life. It's not like I've hurt anybody, all I've hurt is myself.

“I regret what I did but I have done my time for my crime.”

The Home Office today said all foreign nationals handed custodial sentences in the UK were liable to be considered for deportation.

It refused to comment on Miss Brooks' case but highlighted the fact the Home Secretary recently said all non-European Economic Area nationals who are given custodian sentences should be considered for deportation.

A spokesman said: “Foreign nationals must obey the laws of this country in the same way as anybody else.

“Those that have committed criminal offences are therefore subject to the same legal processes as anyone else in the UK.

“Anyone breaking the law, irrespective of whether they're a British person or foreign national, can expect prosecution and, where appropriate, a custodial sentence and deportation.

“When considering deportation action we will consider of course all the details of the case and take note of any relevant factors.”



SINCE dropping out of school when she was 13, Zyanya Brooks has notched up a string of crimes and her record now shows eight convictions for 21 offences.

Most are for shoplifting, including the most recent, on May 12, when she stole two tops worth £24 each from Monsoon and attempted to steal £120 worth of clothing from Gap.

The other offences include two convictions for carrying an offensive weapon and one for assault when she hit a girl she accused of picking on her daughter.

Before serving the 14-day stretch in Peterborough prison for the May 12 shoplifting offence, she had served one previous jail sentence, for the offensive weapon conviction, also in Peterborough.

Of her latest offence, she said: “I went into Monsoon in Ipswich, I took some tops from there and then I went into Gap. I nicked some things from Gap as well.”

And of her others she said: “I am so petty it's unbelievable.

“I got a caution for hitting a girl that was picking on my daughter. Most of the offences I committed were when I was young.”

But despite her string of convictions, Miss Brooks is adamant she deserves to stay in England.

She said: “England is my home. I don't know anything about it out there, I've lost the language and everything.

“I am not a foreign national really. I didn't come in the back of a van, my dad did everything legally. I might as well have come in the back of a van if this is how I was going to be treated.”

Neil Saunders, of Saunders, Gooding and Riddleston solicitors, said he felt Zyanya deserved to be allowed to stay in the UK.

He said: “Taken in the round is she more of a threat to society than these chaps who have been let out by the Home Office who are rapists and murderers?

“The offences she has committed do seem a bit minor compared to that which we read in the newspapers. She's no threat to society.

“She needs to get it together but she doesn't deserve to be sent back to Western Samoa. It's ridiculous.

“I don't know what's gone wrong here. She's just a child. She's a nice enough girl.

“Western Samoa is the other end of the world really. It seems very harsh to send her out there in this way.”

ZYANYA Brooks came to Ipswich when she was seven years old.

Her father, Gainsborough-born sea captain Richard Brooks, had met her Samoan mother Mariana when his ship docked at Pago Pago in nearby American Samoa nine years earlier.

The couple married and spent several years on Mr Brooks' salvage vessel, Debut, until it was shipwrecked on Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

Mr Brooks, a former Ipswich policeman, brought his wife and young family back to his home town for a new life in England.

Zyanya was given permanent leave to remain in the UK, her mother was naturalised and her brother has since become a British citizen.

Young Zyanya was enrolled at Morland Primary School and she soon learned English and became settled. Later she moved on to Holywells High School.

After her parents divorced, her mother and two younger sisters returned to Samoa but Zyanya stayed with her father.

She says she began offending at age 12 and describes her childhood, which included a short spell in a children's home, as “difficult”, mainly because she had a turbulent relationship with her mother.

ZYANYA Brooks' appeal against the Home Office's deportation order will rest on a clause in the Human Rights Act which states that everyone has the right to a family life.

The case, which Miss Brooks is filing herself, is expected to argue that there are compassionate and exceptional circumstances which should allow her to remain in the UK.

At the centre of that argument will be her assertion that she has strong family ties in England and that her family life would be damaged if she were deported.

Miss Brooks' daughter Tamiya, five, and her step-daughter Mercedes, 13, are both looked after by their father but she has regular access to them.

Her father Richard and 19-year-old brother live in Ipswich and she has no contact with her mother in Western Samoa. She will argue that if she were removed from England her rights to a family life would be breached.

She said: “I don't get on with my mum. My dad has been my only family.

“It's my dad and my daughter that are important to me.

“And although Mercedes is my step daughter she'll always be my little girl.”

And Mr Brooks, who has six children including two from a previous marriage, said: “She's not an illegal immigrant - I brought her here. Every single member of her family is a British national except for her.

“She doesn't know any other culture, she doesn't speak Samoan, she's got nothing to do with Samoa. She doesn't remember any of it.

“This is the only home she's had.”

N Samoa is an independent island nation in the southern Pacific Ocean.

N Samoa is made up of nine islands - the two largest, Savai'i and Upolu are of volcanic origin and their mountainous interiors are covered with dense rain forests that contain valuable hardwood trees.

N It is located about 1,800 miles northeast of New Zealand.

N It occupies the large western portion of the 300-mile long Samoan archipelago, the remaining Samoan islands form the United States territory of American Samoa.

N Samoa was known for many years as Western Samoa; the country changed its official name to Samoa in 1997.

N From the end of the Second World War to its independence in 1962, Western Samoa was a United Nations trust territory administered by New Zealand.

M Apia is the country's capital, largest town, and commercial centre.