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Suspended jail sentence for director of restaurant where 13 immigrants found working illegally

Defence said: 'The person whose name is on the lease in these situations is usually the first to get caught but others usually make more money from it'

A Co Down woman who employed 13 non-EU immigrants to work without the appropriate documentation has been handed a suspended sentence.

The 44-year-old’s barrister told court: “The person whose name is on the lease in these situations is usually the first to get caught but others usually make more money from it.”

Hua Ma Yu, 44, of Ballynahinch Road, pleaded guilty to 13 counts of assisting unlawful immigration to a member state at Newry Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

It was heard that a criminal investigation by the Home Office found that Imperial Restaurant, Hillsborough, was employing non-EU workers, who did not have visas to work in the UK.

The defendant was named as a director and shareholder of this business.

On February 20 and October 1, 2014, it was found that the restaurant employed 13 non-EU workers that met this profile.

Defence barrister Bobbie Rea stated: “My client has made no attempts to distance herself from these very serious offences and they have had a drastic impact on her life.

“The person whose name is on the lease in these situations is usually the first to get caught but others usually make more money from it.”

He continued: “The delay in the case has nothing to do with my client; she has been co-operative from the start and has since cleaned her hands of it.

“This is a woman of 44 with nothing on her record.”

District Judge Eamon King said: “You have breached immigration laws, you employed foreign nationals who did not have the documentation to work legitimately in this jurisdiction.”

Ma Yu was sentenced to three months suspended for 12 months.

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