Fraudulent Kingsbury travel agent freed from jail because his son is gravely ill

Anas Ahmed, rogue travel agent from Kingsbury

Anas Ahmed, rogue travel agent from Kingsbury - Credit: Archant

A fraudulent Kingsbury travel agent who conned expectant holidaymakers out of £42,000 has been freed from jail – after judges showed him leniency because his son is seriously ill.

Anas Ahmed, 34, who ran AirBridge Travel Ltd from his garden shed in Lodore Gardens, was jailed in June for one year after being found guilty of engaging in unfair and aggressive commercial practice. But his sentence was suspended on Friday by judges at the Court of Appeal, who said the case was ‘exceptional’ because of his young son’s illness.

Ahmed ran his scam by advertising holidays through his website and asking customers to pay directly into his bank account, claiming that the website payment service was not functioning.

The company had previously booked flight tickets on behalf of another travel company, but was dropped after its Air Travel Organisers Licence (Atol) expired.

Some customers did not realise they had been duped until they arrived at the airport and found that they had no ticket reservations. Attempts to contact AirBridge and Ahmed were met with rebuffs, deferrals and silence.

Some were even to hand over more money, or risk losing their holidays altogether.

One victim paid more than £4,500 for a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, but realised his tickets were not valid when he contacted the airline with his reservation number.

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Another man paid more than £1,500 to fly to Pakistan for his sister’s wedding, only to discover his flights had not been booked.

Mr Justice Godd, sitting with Mr Justice Foskett, acknowledged that the scammer’s six-year-old son had ‘very significant health problems’.

Suspending Ahmed’s sentence for 18 months, the judge said: “We do consider that this is an exceptional case. The strong personal mitigation convinces the court to suspend the sentence of imprisonment.”