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UK jails Sri Lankan asylum seeker for sexual attack on 21-year-old woman

News Agencies | Updated on: 15 September 2016, 14:45 IST

A Sri Lankan asylum-seeker who was saved from being deported from the UK after a public campaign in 2011, has been jailed for 30 months for sexually attacking a 21-year-old woman.

Sivarajah Suganthan sexually abused a 21-year-old woman while staying at a night shelter in Bristol in 2014.

Suganthan, 31, a father of two, was to face trial at Bristol Crown Court this week but pleaded guilty on 14 September to sexual assault by penetration, The Sun reports.

Judge Martin Picton told Suganthan, who was accompanied by his English girlfriend in court, that the incident had a "devastating" impact on the victim.

He said: "Your victim made quite clear to you earlier in the evening that she was not receptive of your attention and she was not welcoming of any sexual contact."

"I fully accept that you have had terrible experiences in your life. There is obviously a different side to your character that is much more creditable than your awful actions on this night appear to demonstrate," he added.

He also called for a review of the Crown Prosecution Service's handling of the case and the delay in bringing the case to trial.

Suganthan's Indian-origin defence lawyer Anjali Gohil had told the court about her client's "terrible background", which involved being trafficked from Sri Lanka to India and Africa and arriving on British shores in 1999.

She said: "He was orphaned at six and was trafficked after that and made to work in slave-like conditions. In the two long years since this took place, he has turned himself around."

As Suganthan pleaded guilty to the sexual assault, he will have to serve only half his sentence.

Back in 2011, he had spent 37 days in a detention centre waiting to be deported but was allowed to remain in the UK following a public petition of 800 signatures backed by Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Williams.

The MP for Bristol West had 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."


First published: 15 September 2016, 14:45 IST