The killers we can't kick out: Five years on, the failed asylum seeker who fatally struck twelve-year-old Amy is still here
Twelve-year-old Amy Houston was on her way to the record shop after school to buy the new CD by her favourite pop group Busted when her path fatally crossed that of failed asylum seeker Mohammed Ibrahim.
Just over five years ago, she was knocked over by the 25-year-old Iraqi Kurd as she crossed the road near her home in Blackburn, Lancashire.
Ibrahim, who was driving with no insurance and while disqualified, fled after the collision, leaving the still-conscious child trapped under the wheels of his black Rover.
That night, Amy's life-support system was turned off when it became clear she could not survive the massive internal injuries she'd suffered. She died surrounded by her devastated family.
Wasted life: Amy Houston died after being run over by failed asylum seeker Mohammed Ibrahim
Their grief must have been compounded this week when another family shared a shatteringly similar experience. Relatives of Simon Lawrence an ex Royal Marines commando, who served in Northern Ireland in the Seventies, called for the asylum seeker responsible for his death in a hit-and-run accident to be deported.
The 55-year-old motorcyclist was struck by Jean Mukadi in Harefield, West London, last June. He died instantly. Mr Mukadi, an asylum seeker from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was imprisoned for four months after admitting charges of leaving the scene of an accident, driving without a licence and having no insurance, at Uxbridge magistrates' court.
But he escaped deportation because his offences are not considered serious enough by the Home Office. Deportation is automatic only for offenders who have been jailed for more than 12 months or convicted of gun offences.
Meanwhile, Amy's father still struggles to cope with her death.
Two in five drink-drivers are from overseas
Paul Houston, a 39-year-old engineer who was separated from her mother, was informed of his daughter's accident by a policeman who was waiting for him as he arrived at her school for a parent-teacher meeting. 'The day Amy died, I lost everything,' he says.
You might have imagined that after serving just two months of a four-month jail term, Ibrahim would have been deported immediately. After all, hasn't the Government promised the swift removal of illegal immigrants who break our laws?
And this was not Ibrahim's first offence. Before Amy's death, he'd twice been banned from driving and was on bail for a third offence when the accident happened.
Mohammed Ibrahim was disqualified and driving with no insurance when he hit Amy and left her to die
Amazingly, UK Border Agency officials only quite recently seized Ibrahim who, Mr Houston was informed just before Christmas, is still in custody subject to another review.
In the intervening years, Ibrahim notched up another motoring conviction - his fifth.
In 2006, he appeared in court again, pleading guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance. This time, he was handed a two-year supervision order, banned from driving for three years and given a four-month curfew.
'My daughter would be alive today if Ibrahim, a banned driver, had not flouted the law and got into his car that day,' says Mr Houston.
'If he's not prepared to live by our laws, then he doesn't deserve to stay here. It's not a question of race, it's a question of right and wrong.'
Mr Houston had been told that before Ibrahim's seizure, it would have been impossible to deport him because the situation in Iraq was too dangerous. Even now, Mr Houston fears his hopes for justice will come to nothing.
In November, it emerged that illegal immigrant Ahsan Sabri, 28, who in 2004 killed writer Sophie Warne, 30, after speeding through a red light at 60mph in London, cannot be deported because it would breach his human rights.
The High Court overturned an immigration tribunal decision that Sabri - who had overstayed his visa - should be sent home to Pakistan, ruling that deporting him would breach his right to 'respect for family life' as he had married a British woman in 2003 and had a daughter with her, born last May.
Sabri, who was jailed for three years after being found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, argued that his wife may suffer in Pakistan and fail to find a job on account of being a Christian.
The case could set a precedent, allowing illegal immigrants to stay if they marry a British citizen and have a child.
After the hearing, Damian Green, Tory spokesman for immigration, said: 'This is yet another reminder that Gordon Brown's claim to have brought in automatic deportation for criminals was just spin.' The UK Border Agency, however, reports that 2,500 foreign prisoners were removed or deported in the first half of last year - a 'record performance' and 140 per cent higher than in 2006.
Innocent: Amy, aged 7, at her First Holy Communion with father Paul Houston and grandmother Margaret
However, the Sabiri decision has appalled Paul Houston, for Mohammed Ibrahim is also married to a British woman and has two children. But why, he asks in despair, should his own human rights come second to those of visitors who seek to settle here, but break Britain's laws?
'The past five years have been like a slow, emotional torture. If the courts ever decide to put this man's human rights over mine then it will be like a hammer blow. I can't help but wonder if I'm being stalled and if Ibrahim will ever be deported.
'He knew his immigration status when he married a British woman and I can't help but feel a little cynical about it. I have nothing against this man seeking sanctuary in our country and I could understand if he'd been unaware of our laws, but he wasn't. He was on bail and had already been disqualified twice before my daughter was knocked down.
'It seems to me that he has plenty of options while I have none. He took away all my options when Amy died. She was my only child. I lost my whole family, I lost my job, I lost my peace of mind and all I am left with is my name.
'I owe it to Amy to keep fighting for justice. He spent two months in prison for what he did. Until Amy died, I didn't realise that life was so cheap in Britain.
'Five times he's been in court for driving while disqualified. Five times he's flouted the law - how many chances should he have?'
Amy, aged 10, in her school photo
Some might regard it as politically incorrect to highlight the failings of foreign illegal drivers when there are plenty of home-grown examples who ignore the law.
Government figures show there are more than a million uninsured drivers on the road, but random police checks suggest the true number of uninsured drivers could be as high as five million.
There is no breakdown to show how many of these illegal drivers are foreign, although one report - based on leaked information from a Home Office source - has suggested that asylum seekers committed more than 20,000 driving offences between 2003 and 2006, leaving a death toll of at least 70 in their wake.
Some police forces have also seen a shocking rise in driving offences among immigrants who are unaware of our laws or simply ignore them. Illegal immigrants living below the radar are, unsurprisingly, reluctant to draw attention to their status by applying for a licence or insurance.
According to leaked statistics, in Cambridgeshire alone two in every five motorists caught over the drink-driving limit or driving while banned are from overseas.
The county's Chief Constable, Julie Spence, has warned about the effects of rapid immigration to the area, saying: 'We have seen an increase in specific offences such as motoring offences, sex trafficking and worker exploitation... the growth of our (migrant) population has brought about significant policing challenges, not least the time and effort we put into dealing with offenders whose first language is not English.'
Chief Inspector Paul Elliott, of Lincolnshire Police, put it in a nutshell after the inquest in 2003 into the deaths of newlyweds Christopher, 46, and Ann Mallet, 41.
'The difficulty is that if they are here illegally, they cannot get insurance so they will never be driving legally,' he said. 'It is very difficult to reach the community who are here illegally and have no desire to make contact with the police.'
'They have little respect for our laws'
The Mallets, the inquest heard, died after Wlodzimierz Rogowski, then aged 35, who was driving without an MoT or insurance and was nearly five times over the drink-drive limit, ploughed into the couple's car at 75mph.
According to Deputy Chief Constable Adam Briggs, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, legislation is under way 'to better help authorities deal with non-UK residents who commit driving offences'.
When enacted, this will enable police to issue fixed-penalty notices, take on-the-spot deposits for fine payment and give foreign drivers instant penalty points to disqualify them if they persist in bad behaviour.
Sophie Warne was killed by illegal immigrant Ahsan Sabri in 2004
The prospect of fines and penalty points means nothing, however, to those who have lost loved ones to illegal drivers.
Alison Fritchley, 45, from Gloucestershire, lost Paul, her husband of 19 years - a self-employed courier - when he was killed in a road accident in January 2004. Their children Scott and Holly were 15 and 13 at the time of the accident.
Gloucester Crown Court found failed asylum seeker Nana Kemajou, 30, guilty of driving dangerously after hearing how, while speeding at 90mph with a 'seriously underinflatedtyre, he ploughed into the back of Mr Fritchley's Renault, sending it spinning into a lorry.
Kemajou, from Cameroon, had been living in Britain under a false name. He was jailed for two-andahalf years, but although it was reported at the time that he would be deported immediately after sentence, he is still here.
'Not only did Nana Kemajou cause the death of my husband, he's now living 14 miles away from me in Cheltenham. Is that right?' says Mrs Fritchley. 'Losing my husband devastated the whole family and my children have struggled terribly. In my opinion, this man has never been properly punished.
'I believe 100 per cent that he should have been deported after his sentence and I don't know why he hasn't been. I've been told by the police they are not even sure if that's his real name, so perhaps that's why.
'I can't get into a car without being insured or while disqualified, so why should he be able to?
'If I go to another country, I know I have to respect that country's laws or face the consequences. There appears to be one set of rules for us, but quite another for those who come here.'
It's a feeling shared by the family of Callum Oakford. In November, he should have celebrated his 14th birthday, but instead his family mourned once again - their grief compounded by the outrage they still feel at his death.
To mark the birthday he never lived to see, they laid a cross, made by his mother Lynn, at the scene of the accident.
Ahsan Sabri, 28, who killed Sophie Warne by driving into her at 60mph cannot be deported
Nine-year-old Callum, from West Sussex, died on New Year's Day 2004, when he stepped into the path of a car driven by Algerian Kamel Kadri, then aged 38, an illegal immigrant driving with no insurance or driving licence. He had entered the UK in 2001 on a stolen French passport and had his application for asylum rejected in 2002.
He was jailed for six months after admitting failing to stop after an accident and driving without insurance or a licence. He received a further 16 months for the passport offence.
Callum's mother said she felt Kadri was 'laughing' at the family from his prison cell. Jailing Kadri, Judge Anthony Thorpe said: 'It is intolerable that those who should have been removed from the country manage to stay for long periods of time and are no doubt often driving unsafe, unlicensed and uninsured cars, since they clearly have little respect for the laws of the country.'
He promised to pass on his comments to the Home Office. So was Kadri deported after completing his sentence? When asked by the Daily Mail, the Home Office confirmed he was, on November 8, 2004. What a shame, then, that the family were not informed.
Callum's sister Sarah, 23, said: 'We had no idea what happened to Kamel Kadri after he served the little time he spent in prison, though we were keen to find out. His punishment was nowhere near what he should have received.'
Lynn, whose elder son Sam, now 17, witnessed the accident, added: 'Kadri got longer in prison for having a false passport than taking my baby. Now I live every day not knowing if I am going to lose my remaining son, because he can't cope with it all.
'Finally knowing that Kadri has been deported was been the best present for Callum's birthday. I have spent years not knowing. It was like a weight had been lifted.'
Will Paul Houston ever share that feeling? Or will the man whose driving cost his daughter's life be allowed to remain here to protect his 'human rights'?
The omens, for the moment, are not encouraging.
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