South Scotland

Castle Douglas immigration hotelier speaks of ordeal

Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court
Image caption Mr Islam had been jailed for the offence at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court

A hotelier who has had his jail term for harbouring illegal immigrants overturned has spoken of his ordeal.

Helalul Islam, 47, was jailed for providing accommodation, food and money to non-European citizens while running the Merrick Hotel in Castle Douglas.

The Court of Criminal Appeal has now ruled he could be admonished.

He said his family had gone through "hell" but had always been convinced his appeal against his jail term would be successful.

The Merrick Hotel was raided in January last year and checks revealed two waiters and a kitchen hand had over-stayed their permission to be in the country.

Mr Islam later appeared at Kirkcudbright Sheriff Court and admitted breaching the 1971 Immigration Act.

He was jailed for 16 months but that decision was overturned this week.

"I have suffered one and a half years of hell, as have my wife, family and friends," he told BBC Scotland.

'Thrilled to bits'

Mr Islam had served 33 days of his jail term before he was released to await the outcome of the appeal.

He said he was overjoyed with the decision of the appeal judges.

"I was thrilled to bits and excited," he said.

"People who are good will always work for good causes and the truth will always win."

Meanwhile, Dumfries and Galloway Council has confirmed Mr Islam is clear to reapply for his drinks licence.

He surrendered it earlier this year prior to a meeting where Chief Constable Patrick Shearer had asked the local licensing board to revoke it.

A council spokesman said he could make a fresh bid for a licence.

"The application would be considered by the appropriate local licensing board," he said.

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