An asylum seeker who avoided deportation thanks to a public campaign headed by an MP was facing jail yesterday after admitting sexual assault.
Sri Lankan-born Sivarajah Suganthan spent 37 days in a detention centre before being allowed to remain in the UK thanks to Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams.
Mr Williams lobbied immigration minister Damian Green to grant him asylum and presented an 800-name petition to Parliament calling for the deportation threats to end.
He was to face trial at Bristol Crown Court but pleaded guilty to sexual assault by penetration.
Anjali Gohil, defending, said the guilty plea was on a full facts basis.
Record Peter Towler ordered a pre-sentence report and adjourned the case for sentence on September 14.
He told Suganthan: “I won’t be the sentencing judge. I would have thought a custodial sentence is inevitable.”
The offence of sexual assault by penetration has a sentencing guideline ranging from a community order to 19 years in prison, depending on how it is categorised.
Suganthan, a father-of-two, was bailed on condition he has no contact with the complainant and cooperates with the making of the report.
When Suganthan was released from detention in 2011 Caroline Beatty, manager of the Refugee Welcome Centre, said: “We wanted to thank Mr Williams for his help and are sure that it was his intervention that meant Siva was released.
“We are hoping that we can count on his support in the future when he makes his fresh claim.”
Mr Williams, MP for Bristol West, said at the time: “It was wonderful to meet Siva in person and to see that he was happy and smiling and delighted to be back among friends in Bristol.
“I am pleased that I and my staff were able to be of help.”
Suganthan came to the UK in 1999 at the age of 14. His initial claim for asylum was refused in 2003, and dismissed a second time in 2004 following an appeal.
Former MP Stephen Williams yesterday (Tues) said he could not have predicted asylum seeker Sivarajah Suganthan would go on to commit a crime.
Mr Williams – who lost his Bristol West seat last year – said: “I would only have been able to intervene to make sure this case got a hearing.
“The granting of asylum or leave to remain would have been taken by a judge.
“Obviously if there was any thought at all that this person was likely to commit sexual assault it would not have been granted.
“Neither I nor the judge in the case could possibly have foreseen what would happen three years down the line.”
He said he had been targeted online since the case was reported, and added: “The implication that asylum seekers are likely to commit sexual offences is ridiculous.
“The vast majority integrate successfully into British society and contribute.”
He said he could not recall the reason Suganthan sought asylum, or what decision was made in court due to the high number of cases he dealt with during his ten-year stint.