Sri Lankan asylum seeker in the UK jailed over sex attack

3855a4eb00000578-3788968-image-a-87_1473852479377A Sri Lankan asylum seeker in the UK has been jailed for 30 months for a sex attack carried out three years after he was saved from deportation in a campaign led by his local MP, the Daily Mail reported.

Sri Lankan-born Sivarajah Suganthan, 31, was allowed to remain in the UK thanks to a 2011 campaign headed by Lib Dem MP for Bristol West Stephen Williams.

After an 800-signature petition was presented to Parliament calling for a halt to the deportation process, Suganthan – nicknamed Siva – moved in with friends in Bristol.

But three years later the father-of-two ‘preyed’ on a vulnerable 21 year-old who had rejected his advances at a night shelter.

Bristol Crown Court heard that she woke at 3am to find her knickers pulled down and Suganthan forcing a sex act on her.

DNA at the scene of the assault in February 2014 proved it was him and Suganthan, who has a previous conviction for shoplifting, was arrested shortly afterwards.

After initially pleading not guilty, he confessed to the crime on the day of his trial – but still maintains he ‘doesn’t remember doing it’, the court heard.

Two and a half years after the attack, he has been finally jailed by a judge who slammed the ‘inexplicable’ delay in getting the case to court.

Judge Martin Picton called for a review of the Crown Prosecution Service’s handling and said ‘lessons should be learned’ to ensure it ‘never happens again’.

He told Suganthan – who was supported in court by his English girlfriend – the incident had had a ‘devastating’ impact on his victim’s life.

She still suffers from anxiety and depression and struggles to leave the house.

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’.

He added: ‘I fully accept that you have had terrible experiences in your life.

‘I fully accept that you have come a long way from the child who came to this country in a damaged condition.

‘I fully accept that you have done much to change.

‘There is obviously a different side to your character that is much more creditable than your awful actions on this night appear to demonstrate.’

The court heard the assaulted happened at The Julian Trust Night Shelter in St Paul’s Bristol, where the woman was the only female in the dorm.

Earlier in the night Suganthan touched her on the bottom and asked her if she wanted to share a shower with him but she declined.

Defending, Anjali Gohil said Suganthan had a ‘terrible background’, and was trafficked from Sri Lanka to India and Africa and arrived 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.’

She added he Suganthan has been backed by charities, MP Stephen Williams and even has a girlfriend, Lucy Gilbert, who attended court.

She said: ‘In the two long years since this took place, he has turned himself around.’

Suganthan pleaded guilty to sexual assault by penetration and will serve half his sentence.

The Crown Prosecution Service did not apply for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order because the incident was a ‘one off’, the court heard.

Suganthan, a father of two, 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.

In 2011 he was volunteering at the Refugee Welcome Centre in Easton, before he was held at the Dover immigration removal centre for 37 days.

He was released after a successful campaign led by Lib Dem MP Stephen Williams, who lobbied immigration minister Damian Green to grant him asylum.

Mr Williams, former 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.’ (Colombo Gazette)