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General News of Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Source: oldham-chronicle.co.uk

Deported mum flees homeland for Ghana


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A TERRIFIED mum who was deported from the UK to her Nigerian homeland, despite claiming she would be stoned to death if she returned, has managed to flee to Ghana.

Helen Noah, along with five-year-old autistic son William , who was a pupil at St Anne’s RC School in Greenacres, was flown from Heathrow Airport to Nigeria after UK Border Agency staff raided her Roundthorn Road home last month.

However, speaking to the Chronicle from Ghana, Helen said the pair are now staying with friends.

Helen came to Britain in 1999, first to London and then Liverpool, where she met William’s father.

But the relationship, and the fact that she has had a child by another man, means she is under sentence of death, she says.

Helen said: “The immigration people want me to go back to my marriage but my fear is that because I ran away and had a child by someone else I face death.

“I am an abomination to my family and I will be stoned to death — that is the punishment.”

Helen’s exile from Nigeria began when she left the forced marriage and was helped to get to London by a Nigerian couple who promised to assist her studies. But Helen said when they got here they made her work as a housekeeper, locking her in the house, before she escaped to Liverpool, then came to Oldham.

On October 6, she said, seven immigration and Border Agency staff called at her house in the early hours, and told her she was under house arrest.

Helen added: “They told me to wake William and emptied my laundry bin into plastic bags. That was all we took.

“We didn’t have anything to eat and they took us to a reporting centre in Salford and locked us in a room for two or three hours.

“They told me my case had been refused but no-one had told me. My solicitor didn’t get any information. Then different people came and took us to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire.”

Helen said conditions there were indescribable. On October 9, she and William were flown to Nigeria. After refusing to return home she said friends bailed her out and took her to Ghana, where she is staying in their house.

Friends in Oldham didn’t know where she had gone for a month. William’s school friends have been shielded from the news and told he is at a new school.

Helen said: “He is crying every day, he wants to go home to Oldham, he wants to go to school, he misses his school. He was looking forward to his birthday, and talks about Oldham every day. He doesn’t understand. He is in a strange land and I don’t know what the future is.”

Helen has managed to speak to friends in Oldham who supported an online petition to stop her being deported last month.

She said: “That makes me feel a bit better and gives me some hope.”

Friend Karen Lees, whose grandchildren went to school with William, said: “We will try to get her back, I don’t know how, but I will start researching now. The first time I spoke to her in four-and-a-half weeks was very emotional.

“If we’d known what was happening we could have tried to help. We assumed William was ill when he missed school. Now I would say if you know someone is missing, go and find them.”

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