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Thursday, 18 December 2014

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Cumbrian restaurant boss has his jail term reduced

A restaurant boss jailed for employing three illegal workers has had his sentence cut “as an act of mercy” due to his family’s desperate plight.

Wahiduzzaman photo
Khandaker Mohammad Wahiduzzaman

Khandaker Mohammad Wahiduzzaman, 50, was jailed for 23 months in December after admitting three counts of assisting unlawful immigration.

The charges concerned three men found working illegally at the Anamika restaurant, Cleator Moor, in March last year during a search by the UK Border Agency and police.

One of the men was a chef employed in the kitchens, who border officials had already warned Wahiduzzaman about.

He told officers he had no idea the chef was working in his restaurant because he was simply allowing him to sleep in a flat over the premises, said Mr Justice Lloyd Jones.

The other two men were recent arrivals to the restaurant, London’s Appeal Court heard.

The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Elias and Mrs Justice Cox, said Wahiduzzaman would have profited “considerably” from the three men’s work.

He deserved a stiff deterrent sentence and knew what he was doing was wrong, said the judge, who added that, in normal circumstances, the Appeal Court would not have interfered with the sentence.

But the judge noted the restaurateur’s distressing family background.

He originally came to the UK to qualify as a doctor, but took to the restaurant business after failing his medical exams in London.

He is now bankrupt and with debts of £80,000 to his name, the court heard.

On top of that he was the “mainstay” of his family, his wife is expecting their second child in June, while their first child is particularly vulnerable.

“We’re persuaded that the court should, as an act of mercy, reduce the sentence by reason of the wholly exceptional circumstances faced by his family,” said the judge.

The sentence, originally imposed at Carlisle Crown Court, was cut from 23 to 18 months.

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