Convicted foreign criminal jailed - Stevenage

01/08/2014

A foreign criminal, who was allowed to stay in this country despite being convicted of a catalogue of violence, was carrying on assaults on a woman while his deportation case was being heard.

Sanel Sahbaz won the hearing last August when an Immigration and Asylum judge ruled that his human rights would be violated if he were to return to Bosnia. At that time, and then after his court victory, he was subjecting a woman in her 20s to assaults, and false imprisonment and was making threats to kill her.

Last month, a jury at St Albans Crown Court found Sahbaz, aged 31, of Sele Road, Hertford not guilty of raping the woman in a hotel room in Stevenage, Herts between 16-21 May 2013. But the nine men and three women were unaware of his violent past or the fact that he had admitted other offences against his latest victim.

Today, Friday, 01 August 2014, Judge Marie Catterson said that she considered him a dangerous offender who posed a significant risk of harm to members of the public by violent offending.  She jailed him for 4 years with an extended sentence of 5 years, which means he will be supervised by probation officers on his release if he remains in this country.

She was told by prosecutor Will Noble that he has been served with a second deportation notice. The judge told Sahbaz: "It is a matter for the authorities if you are deported." But she said it was her understanding that it was usually the case if sentences of 12 months or longer were passed.

During the trial the court heard Sahbaz had befriended the victim when he was working as a 'peer mentor' volunteer at the Hertford Crime Reduction Initiative. In a police interview Sahbaz said he had been working there as a volunteer because he had a deportation order against him and was unable to get paid work.

Giving evidence Sahbaz, who took the oath on the Koran, said they had sex in the hotel room before going to sleep. In the morning he said they had consensual sex before they were due to check out. He said: "She was very alert. She was talking to me."

The jury were not told that he faced 10 other charges all against the same woman.

He pleaded guilty to assault by beating on 12 July 2013, when he slapped the woman's face and threw an ashtray at her leg. He admitted assault by beating again on 08 August 2013, when he assaulted her near Tesco in Ware. The prosecution accepted his plea of not guilty to sexual assualt on 08 August 2013. He admitted causing actual bodily harm later on 08 August 2013, when he punched the woman's jaw, causing multiple soft tissue damage. He denied causing actual bodily harm on 01 September 2013, but his plea of guilty to common assault was accepted. He had caused the woman to suffer a bloody nose. His plea of not guilty to making threats to kill on 02 October 2013, was accepted. He denied causing actual bodily harm on 02 October 2013. His plea to common assault was accepted. On that occasion she was punched and kicked in the stomach. He pleaded guilty to making a threat to kill, assault by beating, and false imprisonment on 14 October 2013, when the woman was kept in a flat, threatened with a knife and punched. He told her: "The only way this is going to end is when you are carried out in a body bag."

Sahbaz arrived in Britain in 1993, aged 11, as a dependent of his refugee father. His criminal record goes back to 2001. He has 8 convictions for 28 offences.

His barrister John Marchant said Sahbaz took "full responsibility for his actions for which he apologies."

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