Rapist who dumped victim on rubbish tip escapes deportation
03-30-2010, 09:57 PM
Rapist who dumped victim on rubbish tip escapes deportation
Rapist who dumped victim on rubbish tip escapes deportation after judge says he 'has right to stay and marry in UK'
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 5:48 PM on 30th March 2010
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A judge decided rapist Alphonse Semo could marry in the UK instead of being deported
A convicted rapist facing deportation has won a High Court battle to be allowed to stay in Britain so he can get married.
Alphonse Semo, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, threw his victim on a rubbish tip when he 'had finished with her'.
But last night he won the right to remain in the UK for his wedding, just hours before he was due to board a plane back to Africa.
A judge said it was difficult to have any sympathy for Semo, who was jailed for eight years, but he must be allowed to stay.
Mr Justice Collins said the Home Office had at first agreed to let the 53-year-old, from Deptford, south east London, get married to his long-term partner, a German national.
Then the wedding was effectively cancelled by a subsequent decision 'by the same Home Office - no doubt by a different department', he said.
The judge added that he was 'very reluctant' to intervene but said the Home Office could not be allowed to play 'hot and cold'.
The judge said: 'With considerable reluctance, I have to say he must be allowed to marry.
'That means there will be a prohibition against removing him.'
The judge said the Home Secretary would have to reconsider later, after the marriage, whether to make a fresh attempt to deport Semo.
That would engage issues of EU law as his bride-to-be, Bunsana Kalonji, is a refugee from the Congo who became a German national. The pair have a long-established relationship.
Once married, the pair are expected to claim that Semo is legally entitled to remain in the UK as the spouse of an European Economic Area national entitled to free movement within EU member states, including the UK.
Semo was sentenced to eight years' jail in December 2002 for raping and assaulting a 38-year-old woman in Rushey Green, Catford, south east London.
The trial judge said of the rape: 'You added to that the degradation of throwing her on a rubbish tip once you had finished with her.'
His refugee status was revoked in June 2008 and the Home Secretary made a deportation order.
After finishing his prison sentence, he was detained pending deportation.
Immigration minister Phil Woolas refused to criticise the judge over the ruling but added that his constituents would be 'concerned'
Since then he has successfully fought a series of legal battles to stay in the UK, the latest of which centres on his wedding plans.
On Tuesday last week, the Home Office refused to grant Semo, who is being held at Colnbrook immigration removal centre near London's Heathrow Airport, a 'movement order' allowing him to attend Hillingdon Register Office at 10.30am yesterday for his wedding to his German fiancee.
His lawyers were told that he could not marry as directions had been issued for him to be flown out of the country - on the day he was hoping to wed.
Last Friday, his legal team made an urgent application to High Court judge Mrs Justice Nicola Davies for him to be allowed to get to the register office.
The judge refused. She observed that the original wedding date had been altered from March 30 to the 29th - the day he was to be deported - and described the application as 'an attempt to obstruct the process of removal'.
The legal battle continued yesterday when Semo renewed his legal challenge before Mr Justice Collins.
Shortly before 5pm - Semo was due to be put on a plane at 7pm - the judge blocked his removal.
The judge said: 'It is difficult to have any sympathy for this claimant. He came to this country from the Democratic Republic of Congo and was granted asylum.
'He chose to misuse his time here by committing offences, the most serious of which was rape.'
Ruling that Semo must be allowed to marry, the judge said whether or not his motive was to avoid deportation was 'not material'.
Semo was being held at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in Uxbridge, west London, pending his deportation
The Home Office's action in first allowing the marriage to be arranged, and then not allowing it to go ahead, was 'not a satisfactory means of fulfilling its obligations'.
The judge said: 'Once a certificate of approval to marry had been issued, under Home Office guidance there was an obligation to facilitate it.'
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas admitted the public would be 'concerned' that Semo was allowed to stay in this country.
He said: 'We have a policy of deporting foreign national prisoners who have served or been sentenced to 12 months or more so clearly we take the decision of the court very seriously indeed.
'It is not my place to criticise judges and I am not going to. We have to abide by the law of the land just as everyone else does, but I think my constituents will be concerned by this decision.
'The Home Office decision was based on legal advice on what was likely to happen.
'We have deported 5,400 foreign national prisoners and we have got the highest number of deportations this country has ever had.
'Having said that, we have to abide by the law, but I do think the public will share my concern over this decision.'
Officials at the Home Office confirmed it would seek to deport Semo after his wedding.
Shadow immigration minister Damian Green said: 'The Home Secretary needs to explain urgently what happened in this case, with the Home Office seeming to contradict itself.
'Many people will be rightly angry that a convicted rapist can find ways to stay in this country when he has no right to be here.'
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: 'The Home Secretary should have had Semo on the first flight out after his release.
'Until the left hand knows what the right is doing at the Home Office, we will not have a migration system fit for purpose. It's time to end the mismanagement.'*
A member of staff at Hillingdon Register Office in Uxbridge, west London, said Semo was due to marry there today.
The centre would not comment officially but a source confirmed the ceremony would not be taking place.
The source declined to give details as to why it had been cancelled.
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