Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

The jail sentence of a woman who faked to be a mother of a girl reduced

Date: (25 February 2013)    |    

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Child trafficking by childless women into the country should be seen with some sympathy a top judge has ruled.
According to Lord Justice Toulson, women who break the law to bring a child into the country and their homes should be shown mercy and not treated as people traffickers.
He was presiding over a case of Carmen Thomas a woman who was so desperate to become a mother that she pretended to be the mother of a girl as her own. The girl was born in the Philippines to a couple who were not able to afford her up keep.
Mrs Thomas was jailed after giving the baby her surname, signing her birth certificate and seeking a resettlement visa for her.But the London Criminal Appeal Court understood her overwhelming desire for a child and said she ought not to be treated as a people trafficker.
Mrs Thomas, 50, from Sunderland, attempted to circumvent the UK’s complex adoption laws by making plans to smuggle the baby illegally into the country.After visiting the islands with husband Mark, a security guard, she tried to bring the baby back with her by pretending she had given birth to her there.
But the truth was unraveled when Mrs Thomas had applied for a visa for the baby when her passport was found not carrying her claim of having visited the Philippines at the time she reported she had given birth.
The application for a settlement visa was plainly rejected and she was arrested on her return to the UK.She was jailed for six months at Newcastle Crown Court on January 22, having pleaded guilty to trying to facilitate a breach of UK immigration laws.
However, Lord Justice Toulson, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice Stuart-Smith, cut her sentence by a third, meaning she was going to be free next month.
Mrs Thomas travelled to the islands in May 2011, and, in June of that year, approached immigration officials at the British Embassy in Manila for a UK settlement visa for the child.Despite her failed attempt to bring the baby back to the UK, Mrs Thomas had bonded so much with her during their few weeks together that she is continuing to provide financial support for her, the court heard.
Lord Justice Toulson said the woman and her husband had wanted to adopt a child, and she had believed she had adopted the baby. Worried that adoption process would have taken a long time in the Philippines as well as the UK she attempted to circumvent legal adoption proceedings which were completely out of character.
Knowing that she was breaching the UK immigration laws she attempted to facilitate the entry which was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the immigration laws which needed much foresight and planning.
Such offence calls for general deterrence but it is important to note that the couple was driven by their desire to adopt a child and as such it was not a case of child trafficking.
Though immediate custodial sentence was inevitable, and the sentence needed to reflect deterrence a four months sentence was enough said the Justice.