Author: Stoke-On-Trent Live
Taxpayers shelled out more than £500-a-week to provide foster care for a ’16-year-old’ Vietnamese girl – only for her to be exposed as a 22-year-old illegal immigrant.
Duong Trinh was found hiding in the toilets of Isabella’s Nail and Beauty, in Cheadle, after the business was raided by police and immigration in March, 2017.
She gave a false name and her date of birth as October 17, 2000 – which made her 16 – and was placed in foster care by Staffordshire County Council. She claimed she was a victim of modern slavery and made an application for asylum using the false details.
But the police were tipped-off that the defendant was in fact aged 22. Officers contacted the Vietnamese authorities who confirmed Trinh was born on July 10, 1994, making her 22. They sent copies of her fingerprints and a photograph which were a match for the defendant.
Prosecutor Joanne Wallbanks said: “The defendant gave a false name and a date of birth of October 17, 2000, which would make her aged 16. She was arrested for entering the UK illegally. She repeated the details at the police station. When spoken to by immigration officers she said she was a victim of modern slavery.
“Due to her saying she was 16, she was placed into the care of social services. She was treated as a potential victim of trafficking. She made an application for asylum on May 7, 2017 and again used the false name and date of birth.
“In July, 2017 the police were contacted and given the defendant’s correct details. Inquiries with the Vietnamese authorities confirmed the details of the defendant.”
The defendant told police she was trafficked into England. She said her colleagues had told her if questioned she should give a false name and date of birth to make her 16. She said she did not know by doing that she would be treated differently and cost the UK more money.
The foster carer who took her in said the defendant had prevented another child having a new life. She added she may now think twice about giving a home to a child from another country.
Trinh, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to perverting the course of public justice.
Philip Beardwell, mitigating, said the defendant was trafficked into the country for £20,000.
He said: “Were she to be returned to Vietnam she fears immediate and dangerous repercussions meted out on her because she has not paid the £20,000. “She was trafficked. She has been manipulated and abused by others.”
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The court heard Trinh’s care cost a ‘significant amount of taxpayers’ money’.
Jailing Trinh, Judge Paul Glenn said: “You were arrested and your immediate response was to lie. You gave a false name and date of birth. You claimed to be a victim of modern day slavery. That triggered a lengthy series of further inquiries.
“It is quite plain that giving false details was a premeditated ploy. You knew what you were doing to avoid prosecution for any immigration offences. But more than anything, I suspect this was a deliberate ploy to avoid being deported because you entered the UK unlawfully. You had no right to remain and no legal right to employment.
“The deception used the valuable time of the authorities, valuable resources and a significant amount of taxpayers’ money.
“In March 2017 you were accommodated with foster parents. That cost the state more than £500 a week. That could have been properly deployed to help those who need money and a child who really did need a home.”
Judge Glenn added: “The sentence will not trigger automatic deportation. That will be a decision for other people in due course.”
The county council says it worked closely with Staffordshire Police over this case.
Councillor Mark Sutton, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Where an unaccompanied young asylum-seeking child comes to our attention in the county we have a legal duty to provide them with care and accommodation. At the time, we carried out an approved age assessment and there was no information to suggest Duong Trinh was not 16.
“As soon as we were made aware of the additional information we worked closely with the police to make sure the appropriate action was taken.”