Terror suspect avoids jail for exclusion order breach in legal first

A terrorism suspect has avoided jail for breaching a temporary exclusion order (TEO) in the first case of its kind.

The defendant, referred to as QQ, was found guilty in February of breaching the terms of the order aimed at protecting the public from people suspected of being involved in terrorism abroad.

On Tuesday, Judge Richard Marks QC handed him five months in jail suspended for 18 months.

The judge also imposed a 25-day rehabilitation activity to help QQ back on his feet after hearing he had lost his job in the coronavirus crisis and was sleeping in his car.

QQ was made the subject to a two-year TEO in June 2018.

On May 20 last year, he failed to register at Mansfield House police station in Leicester without reasonable excuse, an offence contrary to the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015.

The defendant, who had never been charged or convicted of any offence to do with terrorism, claimed he had been suffering from hayfever and flu and simply forgot.

However, the court heard he had visited a cashpoint, spent time on his mobile phone and gone out in his car for a coffee.

The jury found QQ guilty of breaching the TEO without reasonable excuse.

The defendant joined an Old Bailey Skype hearing from Leicester Crown Court to be sentenced.

Prosecutor Emma Garriter said it was the first conviction for the offence, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in custody.

In mitigation, Jacob Bindman said: “Presently, and rather unfortunately, he had to move out of his accommodation and he is living in his car.

“He did obtain a job after the trial took place and was working for an import and export company until March and because of the Covid-19 situation he was laid off and not furloughed.

“The company, I understand, is willing to re-employ him once the situation calms down.

“He had gone to live in Leicester and unfortunately due to difficulties at home he had to move out of the property.”

The court heard the defendant had one previous conviction in 1999 for witness intimidation, for which he was sentenced to a year in a Young Offenders Institute.

Sentencing, Judge Marks rejected the suggestion that QQ forgot to go to the police station, saying it was a deliberate decision, likely born out of resentment at the intrusion in his life.

He told QQ he had decided to suspend the jail term because the breach was a “one off” nearly a year ago.

He added: “I have in mind the recent observations of the Lord Chief Justice on the impact of people going into custody at this time in the pandemic.”

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