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Wife-beater spared jail over 'cricket contract' claim sent to prison

A man spared a prison sentence for domestic violence after a court was told he would lose an offer to play professional cricket if he was jailed is now behind bars.

Mustafa Bashir, 33, was given a suspended sentence at Manchester Crown Court on March 22 for assaulting his wife, Fakhara Karim.

Judge Richard Mansell QC was told at the time that if Bashir was spared custody he would be employed as a professional player by Leicestershire County Cricket Club and was "about to sign the contract" when he was arrested for beating his wife.

Bashir had produced a letter, purportedly from his agent, to back his claim.

But the club later said this claim was "wholly false".

He was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm, assault by beating, destroying or damaging property and using a destructive substance with intent to maim.

At the same court on Friday, Judge Mansell revoked the suspended sentence and imposed one of immediate custody.

Judge Mansell had ordered the case back to court under the "Slip rule" which allows judges to re-sentence if new information comes to light.

At Friday's hearing, Bashir denied telling probation officers or his lawyers that he had a job offer to play professional cricket and instead it was suggested there had been a "series of misunderstandings".

He had, in fact, only played as a semi-professional in the Bolton Cricket League and on two occasions had net session practice with Leicestershire - who denied any knowledge of him.

Judge Mansell had asked Bashir to produce evidence of any job offer but said the defendant had produced only a "handful of emails" and "not a shred of evidence" to support his claims.

Imposing the new sentence, the judge told him: "You were clearly making a claim to the court you had a career in professional cricket ahead of you which was false.

"You made that quite clearly in the hope you would avoid a prison sentence.

"There's not a shred of evidence you were ever chosen to play for Leicestershire County Cricket Club, let alone you had received any offer of a full time contract."

Bashir was said to have beaten his wife with a cricket bat and forced her to drink bleach.

Bashir, who played for the Heaton Cricket Club in Bolton, denied he had told his probation officer he represented Pakistan at under-19s or that he played "semi-professional cricket for Leicestershire".

He had given the court a letter from Abid Riaz, a sports agent with the Pro Elite Sports Agency in Bolton, claiming he "had a very bright future ahead" with Leicestershire.

Bob Sastry, defending Bashir in court on Friday, suggested this was a "typographical error" and should have read "would have had a very bright future if he had been selected" by Leicestershire.

The court heard there had been emails between Bashir and Leicestershire in 2014 and 2015 about net practice, but Lloyd Tennant, the scout for the club, could not remember seeing the defendant.

And Mr Tennant said he only scouted new players aged 16 to 24 - Bashir was 31 at the time.

Judge Mansell replied that this would mean his agent had "mis-typed" his letter and both probation officers and his lawyer at the earlier hearing had "got the wrong end of the stick".

And he asked why Bashir did not "stick his hand up" in court when he knew false information was being given to him.

Mr Sastry replied: "He was not listening to everything that was being said. He was at that time extremely emotional.

"The defendant's position is that there's been a series of misunderstandings and he's not in any way wished to mislead anybody."

Bashir could also now face further investigation and criminal proceedings, the court heard.

The judge stressed he was not now re-sentencing him as a punishment for "lying to the court" but added: "You may well face investigation into whether you have committed quite separate offences of perverting the course of justice."

Bashir was also given a restraining order not to approach his wife.

Bashir's case also prompted criticism of the judge by domestic violence campaigners and female MPs after Judge Mansell was reported as saying he was not convinced Miss Karim was a vulnerable person as she was "plainly intelligent", having graduated from university with a 2:1, and had a network of friends.

However, today Judge Mansell said there had been "widespread misreporting of my remarks and widespread misunderstanding of why I made them".

He said he had made clear he regarded her as "plainly vulnerable", but in a different way to a woman who may have come to the UK from a foreign country, without friends, who does not speak the language and is effectively trapped in a violent relationship.

He added: "I am concerned that the misreporting and misunderstanding of my remarks may have given Miss Karim the impression that I did not believe her account as to the effect these offences have had on her, that I did not consider her to be vulnerable."

Leicestershire County Cricket Club said in a statement it was happy to have "played its part" in justice being done.

Chief executive Wasim Khan said: "The club is deeply committed to the White Ribbon campaign set up to tackle domestic violence, so we were horrified at being used as a means for someone who had been convicted of appalling violence to his wife to escape imprisonment.

"His new sentence of 18 months in prison is a much more fitting punishment for what he did and good news for the fight against domestic violence."

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