Luton solicitor convicted of providing illegal immigration service

A solictor from Luton has been found guilty of providing an illegal immigration service to vulnerable migrants.

Flora Magdaline Mendes, 37, was convicted in her absence at Luton Magistrates Court of four counts of providing unregulated immigration advice.

Mendes, of Hitchin Road, was given a two year suspended sentence of six months imprisonment for each of the four counts, to run concurrently.

She was also ordered to pay a total of almost £2,400 compensation to her three victims, as well as prosecution costs and a victim surcharge, leading to full costs of £5226.20.

District Judge Lee-Smith said: “I have heard detailed evidence of the trail of destruction towards vulnerable people she left in her wake as she continued to practice. The damage is a very significant aggravating feature in this case.”

The court was told how Mendes pretended to be a regulated solicitor and practiced under the firm name Arch’s Law from an office in King Street, Luton. She was suspended from practice by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in January 2013.

Speaking about the decision, Suzanne McCarthy, immigration services commissioner, said: “Ms Mendes chose to operate outside the law. I am delighted with the outcome of this case.”

She added: “I hope it sends a clear message to other people considering providing immigration advice, either act within the law or you will find yourself in court.”