Asylum seeker free to rape teenager

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM The Home Office came under renewed fire last night after it emerged it “lost” a failed asylum seeker who went on to carry out the vicious rape of a Norfolk teenager.

CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM

The Home Office came under renewed fire last night after it emerged it “lost” a failed asylum seeker who went on to carry out the vicious rape of a Norfolk teenager.

The tragic blunder increased the pressure on home secretary John Reid, whose troubled department is struggling with a prisons crisis and lingering concerns over monitoring of sex offenders and the state of the immigration system.

Mr Reid succeeded Norwich South MP Charles Clarke as Home Secretary in May last year in the wake of revelations about the disappearance of thousands of unsuccessful asylum applicants and the failure to deport more than 1,000 foreign convicts.

Yesterday 30-year-old Bilal Darioglu - who arrived in Britain from Turkey on the back of a lorry - was jailed for five years for the sex attack on a 19-year-old in Yarmouth.

The rape happened in October last year - just months after it emerged officials had let more than 100,000 people awaiting deportation slip the net.

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Last night the shadow immigration minister, Norfolk MPs and the judge who heard the case rounded on the Home Office.

Darioglu had been denied successive asylum applications after arriving in the UK in 2000.

He should have been deported in 2005 but went missing, raising questions about the systems in place to manage those refused leave to remain.

Last night the Home Office refused to comment on what attempts had been made to monitor or detain Darioglu before the rape. Declining to comment on the specific case, a spokeswoman said: “We always seek to remove failed asylum seekers as quickly as possible but on some occasions there are legal barriers which delay this process.”

But Damian Green, shadow minister for immigration, said: “This is another in a worrying catalogue of very serious offences which could have been avoided had the asylum system not been in such a state of chaos.”

South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon added: “It's a tragedy for the individual girl involved and a vivid illustration of the real danger to the public if the asylum and immigration system doesn't work properly.

“Any system that doesn't understand and know how many people are coming into the country, and allows applicants to apply again and again and play fast and loose with it is in very serious trouble.”

Norwich North MP Ian Gibson said: “There has been a lot of sloppy management over this situation. It not tolerable and presents a real risk to the public. Somebody's head should roll for failing to carry out what should be an elementary job.

“We seem to lurch from one scandal to the next at the Home Office and it is an embarrassment, especially as we were elected on the back of a manifesto pledging to tackle immigration and crime.”

His comments seem to confirm Dr Reid's assessment that his department is “not fit for purpose” and comes amid criticism about overcrowded prisons; a glitch which allowed murderers and sex offenders convicted abroad to work in British schools; and the revelation that UK police had lost track of 322 known sex offenders.

Jailing Darioglu for five years and placing him on the sex offenders register for life, Judge Peter Jacobs expressed scepticism over the likelihood of Darioglu being deported on completion of his sentence saying he did not have “remotest confidence” it would finally happen.

He added: “It's quite clear you should be deported. As to whether that will happen others will decide.”

The court heard how his victim and had been left “totally devastated” by the attack.

Matthew McNiff, prosecuting, said Darioglu was living in Yarmouth when he picked up his victim as she walked home in the early hours of the morning after a night out drinking with friends.

Instead of taking her home he drove her to another part of the town and, after removing some of her clothing, raped her on the back seat of his car.

Mr McNiff said the woman feared she might be seriously harmed or killed. “She kept asking him to stop,” he added,

He said the victim then had a panic attack and kicked out at him and managed to escape. The terrified teenager ran naked to some nearby houses where she found help. Mr McNiff said: “She was sobbing hysterically and uncontrollably and she was rocking back and forth.”

Mr McNiff said that at the time of the offence Darioglu was aware all his appeals against claiming asylum in this country had been rejected in November 2005 and his claim was found to be “totally without merit”.

He said: “He was to be deported but it would appear the Home Office immigration service were unable to find him.”

Edmund Vickers, mitigating, said Darioglu had come to this country aged 22.

“Despite being an illegal immigrant he has always worked in this country in pizza shops and has never claimed benefits,” he said.