“This was a sophisticated business run on the same line as a small family business.”
An Asian couple from Lancashire have been jailed for a combined seven years and nine months for using their estate agency to cover up their immigration enterprise.
Shohidul Islam and his wife Anwara were found guilty of ‘assisting unlawful immigration’.
Shohidul, also convicted of ‘possessing false passports’, is sent to prison for five years and six months.
Anwara carries an additional charge as well – ‘possessing identity documents without reasonable excuse’ – and has been jailed for two years and three months.
Their immigration racket was busted when immigration officers raided their semi-detached property in Burnley on April 1, 2014.
After crawling through a secret floor shaft, an illegal Bangladeshi migrant named Shafik Miah was discovered hiding behind a pile of suitcases.
Police also found bags of fake Bangladeshi passports and National Insurance cards concealed in a wardrobe.
Shohidul and his wife manufactured the documents so that illegal migrants could stay in the UK under new identities and claim benefits.
Recorder Tania Griffiths QC said: “This was a sophisticated business run on the same line as a small family business and I have no doubt your legitimate business assisted you in maintaining a cover for this operation.
“Hardly a day goes by where immigration is not the leading story in the news and the courts have considered these issues.”
She concluded: “There is no difficulty in my mind in understanding where my public duty lies.”
The middle-class couple with four children are respected members of their community, who are shocked by the case.
Keith Harrison, Defence Counsell for Islam, said: “[Shohidul] worked for charity, involved in local community politics, he was a business man and they all spoke highly of him.”
The couple’s attempt to capitalise on the desperation of migrants highlights once again the complex problem of immigration in the UK.