fraudster who hid face behind Muslim veil

Date: 19/09/2013

No hiding place! Police release mugshot of fraudster who hid face behind Muslim veil

A FRAUDSTER who hid her face behind a Muslim veil when she turned up to court has been named, shamed and identified by police.

By: Owen Bennett
Published: Thu, September 19, 2013

Shaheda-Lorgat-arrives-at-court-with-her-face-covered-but-police-released-her-picture-CASCADE- Shaheda Lorgat arrives at court with her face covered, but police released her picture [CASCADE]

Shaheda Lorgat, 49, from Blackburn, went for court hearings in a niqab after being charged with stealing 21,000 from a college where she worked as a purchasing officer.

Passersby were unable to see her face as she arrived at Preston Crown Court, Lancs, to face justice over the thefts.

But after she was jailed for a year Lancashire Police agreed to issue Lorgat's mugshot wearing her head scarf but without her face covering.

They also issued a statement saying frauds like the crimes she committed would "not be tolerated." The police picture taken at the time of her arrest shows Lorgat looking shamed faced as an officer took the photo.

Despite wearing the religious face covering outside court she she lifted the veil and allowed her face to be shown without prompting when she went into the dock to be sentenced for her crimes.

veil, muslimFacebook picture of Shaheda Lorgat

I don't think I've seen her wear a veil so I don't know why she would wear one outside court.

Neighbour Hawa Hamid

Neighbour Hawa Hamid said: "I'm just very shocked by it all and I didn't know she had gone to prison. I only saw her the day before yesterday and she was smiling.

"When I've seen her in the neighbourhood she's only been wearing a head scarf and I don't think I've seen her wear a veil so I don't know why she would wear one outside court.

"Presumably she did not want anyone to recognise her."

Lorgat, from Blackburn, Lancs, had systematically stolen thousands of pounds of taxpayers money earmarked for college equipment at Blackburn College over a three year eight month period to fund a "lavish lifestyle."

She spent the stolen on a holiday to Florida, a trip to Alton Towers, solicitor's bills for her divorce from her ex-husband and builders' costs including renovations to her bathroom.

The thefts came to light in February last year when a member of staff noticed discrepancies on the college credit card.

An internal audit uncovered 'financial discrepancies' and Lorgat was suspended from her role. Police initially feared up to 90,000 had been stolen.

Among the personal items Lorgat paid for on the college account were a total of 9,031 worth of personal travel costs, solicitors bills totalling 2,464 and a total of 8,473 worth of tradesmen's costs.

Other items included 465 worth of services at Alton Towers, 315 worth of personal holiday costs, a supermarket bill of 202, goods worth 245 for personal use and prescription sunglasses worth 153.

veil, muslim, courtBlackburn College where Shaheda Lorgat worked [CAVENDISH]

Lorgat, who has since been sacked from her job, pleaded guilty to 19 counts of fraud by abuse of position.

She claimed she started fraudulently using the credit card when her husband left her after more than 20 years' of marriage. She said the break up led to mental health problems.

In mitigation defence lawyer Leila Ghahhary said: "When her husband left her, she felt a desperate need to pretend to the outside world that everything was okay.

"Her state of mind and emotional anxiety and the stress she was iety and the stress she was going through at the time lead her behave in a way that projected something totally different, hence the spending."

Passing sentence the judge Mr Recorder Robert Crawford told: "All these things you did with public money that should have been spent on an educational institution."

Rachel Curry, director of resources at Blackburn College, said: "The college is satisfied with the outcome of the legal proceedings against a former colleague who was dismissed from our employment over 18 months ago following an investigation initially triggered by minor financial discrepancies.

"As one of the largest and most financially stable further education colleges in the UK, whilst the situation was unfortunate and regrettable there was no impact on the education and training of our learners."

Lorgat's ex-husband Mr Mohammed Lorgat said she carried out the fraud after they had separated and divorced and he no longer had contact with her.

PC Anita Whittle said: "I am pleased with today's sentence, especially given the amount of money that Shaheda Lorgat spent on Blackburn College's credit card which was there to be used for things that benefit the college and its students.

"I hope that today's sentence shows that fraud of any kind will not be tolerated, and those who think that it's acceptable to commit this type of crime will be brought before the courts."

The case comes just days after another Muslim woman accused of witness intimidation was ordered by a London court to remove her veil when giving evidence at her forthcoming trial.

She will have to show her face to the judge, lawyers and the jury so they can see her facial expression when testifying in her defence but she will be screened from off from the rest of the court.