Asylum seeker raped 15-year-old girl after his deportation flight was blocked by protesting cabin crew

18 April 2024, 08:38 | Updated: 18 April 2024, 09:53

Asylum seeker Anicet Mayela pictured outside Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire
Asylum seeker Anicet Mayela pictured outside Campsfield House detention centre in Oxfordshire. Picture: Alamy

By Flaminia Luck

A failed asylum seeker - who was once pictured with a "migrants are not criminals" sign - has pleaded guilty to raping a 15-year-old girl after dodging deportation.

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Anicet Mayela, 40, arrived in the UK in 2004 and fought his return to the Republic of Congo where he claimed his life was at risk.

However, despite his deportation being green lighted by the government, cabin crew intervened during two separate deportation attempts.

Mayela was later granted leave to remain after lawyers said deportation was "against his human rights" as police investigated an alleged assault by the minders overseeing his removal from the country.

On Friday, Oxford Crown Court heard that there was a high level of "dangerousness" during the recent sex attack by the former economics student in December last year.

The Home Office announced Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Oxfordshire would close by May 2019
The Home Office announced Campsfield House immigration removal centre in Oxfordshire would close by May 2019. Picture: Alamy

It was heard that Mayela, of Desborough Crescent, Oxford, raped a girl between December 1 and December 31 last year.

Mayela spoke from the dock only to confirm his name and to enter his guilty plea.

Read more: Tory MP Mark Menzies loses whip as investigation launched into claims he misused campaign funds

It comes as pictures revealed that Mayela protested outside a detention centre days after he was granted leave to remain, saying "migrants are not criminals", becaming a poster boy for anti-deportation campaigners.

The first attempt to deport him failed after he was allegedly injured in an isolation cell at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow Airport, The Sun reports.

Two days after his release, Mayela joined a campaign to close Campsfield House in Kidlington where he was photographed with the sign.

A deportation flight to Brazzaville was planned for May 2005, however the removal was blocked by Air France crew, who stopped the flight taking off from Southampton.

The cabin crew's intervention came amid claims Mayela's hand were broken by deportation minders who handcuffed his wrists and taped his legs together. 

The deportation flight was grounded when Air France crew refused to take off
The deportation flight was grounded when Air France crew refused to take off. Picture: Alamy

'Appalling consequences'

A source said to be close to Home Secretary James Cleverly reportedly told The Sun that people "with no knowledge" of the situations of those for whom "they suddenly decide to intervene... can have appalling consequences for others".

Tory MP Marco Longhi, who sits on the Home Affairs select committee, said: “This raises serious questions about the legal process and Mayela’s right to stay in this country.

“My constituents are sure to be furious to discover that he has remained here on what appears to be a flimsy excuse before committing this horrific crime.”

Mayela has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.

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