AG Ref (Nos 49 and 50 of 2015) (Bakht)

Citation – AG Ref (Nos 49 & 50 of 2015) – [2015] EWCA Crim 1402

Date – 9th July 2015

Keywords – Sentence, s25, bogus college, Sentencing Guidelines

Overview – AG Ref allowed as the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud do not reflect the seriousness of immigration offending

Summary – B and H were convicted after trial of conspiracy to commit a s25 offence. B was a part-time lecturer and H an external examiner.

177 students had submitted applications using false documents. Many were recruited through a company set up by B. Some were aware that they were obtaining false certificates issued by H, others paid course fees and attending lectures believing it to be a genuine and accredited course.

The total amount charged to each beneficiary appeared to have been between £1,500 and £4,000. The Judge estimated the value as around £300,000, or more.

Several students who believed that they were paying for legitimate courses had lost their right to remain, and spent a large sum of money trying to regularise their position. 

The conspiracy was over a period of a year

The Judge approached the case on the basis of the Sentencing Guidelines for Fraud and sentenced B to 5 years and 2½ years for H. 

The Court of Appeal said that it was simply not appropriate to use the Fraud guidelines, as the case was too serious for that – the usual sentencing guidance should apply and the sentences where increased to 8 years and 5 years.  

Comment 

(1) A useful reminder that the Guidelines do not apply to all cases. In future any such case (even if there is a count on the indictment alleging fraud as there was here) should be approached in light of the Le & Stark guidance.

Judges – Rafferty LJ, Cranstone J, HHJ Taylor

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