Takeaway owner had four illegal staff
The owner of a Chinese takeaway in Ballymoney has been given a suspended jail term and fined £1,000 after illegally employing four workers in breach of immigration controls.
Chenge Zheng (49), of Newal Road, Ballymoney, had a four-month custodial term suspended for two years when he appeared at Coleraine Magistrates Court.
He was in court to be sentenced on five charges he previously pleaded guilty to.
These were one of assisting unlawful immigration and four of employing individuals who were subjected to immigration controls which precluded them from working.
The offences came to light in March 2015 when police set up a road checkpoint in Ballymoney and shortly after midnight a Volvo vehicle approached before performing a U-turn.
Police followed with flashing lights and sirens and stopped the car a short distance away.
Five males were inside and the driver presented a Republic of Ireland driving licence.
He told police they had "just finished working" at the Master Chef takeaway in Ballymoney.
A prosecutor said there was no credible explanation given for making off from the police checkpoint.
Officers tried to speak to the rest of the occupants in the vehicle but they had no formal identification and no command of English.
The court was told the driver had given a false name. A total of £1,100 was seized in the vehicle.
Home Office checks showed Zheng was the owner of the Chinese takeaway, and had indefinite leave to stay in the UK.
It was established the others, who were identified by their fingerprints, worked for Zheng.
District Judge Liam McNally told Zheng they were serious charges "where, as the owner of a business, you facilitated a number of your staff to breach immigration law and to be here unlawfully".
He added: "By the same token you have been in the country 20 years; you are a hard-working man, and apart from this you have a clear record and are law-abiding."
For that reason he said he was suspending the prison term.