A BULGARIAN immigrant has been jailed after pretending to be an asylum seeker and stealing nearly £18,000 in benefits.

Peter Kostov arrived in Britain in April with his wife and three children, telling the authorities he was from neighbouring Macedonia.

He registered his claim under the name Stevan Avramovski, maintaining the family had never had passports and had travelled here hidden in the back of a lorry. He said they had paid an agent 12,000 euros to get them into the country.

Before authorities became wise to Kostov’s deception, he managed to claim £17,852 in asylum benefits.

Sentencing him to eight months in jail, Judge Bernard Lever told him: “When you have finished serving your sentence, you can go home to your family and tell everyone else what they can expect in Manchester Crown Courts if, instead of working hard, they cheat and sponge and lie.”

The family were first housed in Liverpool, before being sent to Eccles. Kostov applied for asylum benefits under his false name – and was then granted the cash between April and November while his asylum claim was processed.

Deportation

The claim was rejected in July and last month, the Kostovs were taken to an immigration centre near Heathrow, in preparation for their deportation to Macedonia three days later.

It was at that point that Kostov admitted they were Bulgarian and that their passports were buried in the garden of their home in Eccles.

Since Bulgaria is a European Union member, Kostov had the right to work in Britain for three months at a time. Macedonia is not yet a member, so its citizens cannot work here.

Kostov did not explain his actions in interviews and pleaded guilty to charges of seeking to obtain leave to remain in Britain by deception and making false statements to obtain benefits.

Defence lawyer John Wolfson said Kostov’s family had returned voluntarily to Bulgaria and he would like to be deported there. But Judge Lever said he wanted to make an example of him, jailing him for eight months, less the 27 days he has already spent in custody.

“Bulgaria belongs to the EU and there is a free labour market,” he said. “It was open to you to come over here perfectly lawfully and to seek work.

“Instead of that, you and your family hid your passports and pretended to be Macedonian citizens. You proceeded to cheat and sponge off the hard-working taxpayers in this country.

The case against Kostov was brought by the criminal investigation arm of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA).

Message

North West regional director, Gill Mortlock, welcomed the sentence. “If someone attempts to claim asylum or receives support by giving false information, they can expect to face criminal proceedings and ultimately jail. Today’s sentencing sends out a clear message that neither the BIA nor the courts will tolerate this behaviour,” she said.

“BIA staff are working hard around the region to tackle illegal working and to remove those with no legal right to be here. It is vital the community know this work is being carried out.

“Foreign nationals must obey the laws of this country in the same way as everybody else and those who have committed criminal offences here are therefore subject to the same legal processes as anyone else in the UK.

“Anyone breaking the law, irrespective of whether they are a British citizen or a foreign national, can expect prosecution and, where appropriate, a custodial sentence. We have also made it perfectly clear that we will seek to deport Foreign Nationals who have committed a serious crime in the UK.”

Source

Advertisements