A man who falsely claimed to be a solicitor has been jailed for 15 months after being guilty of providing unregulated immigration advice and services, while another who was actually a bus driver has been handed a suspended sentence.
Martin Solomon Randolph Kekurah, 64, a Sierra Leone national who lived in South London, claimed to be a solicitor with Clintons Solicitors – a firm which used to exist but at the time of the offences had ceased trading. Mr Kekurah was not qualified as a solicitor and had no connection to the firm.
Sentencing him to 15 months imprisonment, Judge Nicolas Lorraine-Smith at Southwark Crown Court said: “I’m satisfied you are manipulative and greedy. You have been preying on vulnerable people who needed immigration advice. You knew what you were doing was wrong and you have done everything possible to avoid detection and conviction.”
Immigration Services Commissioner Suzanne McCarthy said: “Illegally providing immigration advice is a serious offence, and the sentence handed down today reflects this. Peddling illegal immigration advice ruins people’s lives.”
It follows the separate prosecution of Edward Sarkoh, 38, of North London, who was convicted of the same offence at the City of London Magistrates’ Court and sentenced to 10 weeks’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work.
He was also ordered to pay compensation to the victim in the sum of £2,350, prosecutions costs of £1,000 and a victim surcharge of £80.
Mr Sarkoh had falsely presented himself as a qualified solicitor to persons from the Sierra Leone community, when in fact he was a bus driver.
Sentencing him, District Judge Holdham said: “You have been convicted of providing advice when you are not qualified. This was nothing short of fraud when you claimed to hold these qualifications. This offence passes the custody threshold.”
Ms McCarthy said she hoped the case sent “a clear message to other people considering providing immigration advice – either act within the law or you will find yourself in court”.
Recently an immigration solicitor who continued to practise despite being suspended was given a suspended prison sentence also for providing unregulated immigration advice.