A MOTHER has avoided jail after she fled Iran where she was being persecuted for her choice of husband.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Leila Ayoubi, aged 35, was betrothed at birth to a cousin but instead married a British national and they have a one year old daughter, who is also British.

They fled to Turkey because she felt the lives of herself, her baby and husband were threatened by her own family as her parents disapproved of her marriage.

She remained in Turkey while her husband returned to the UK but when a visa application for her to visit was turned down last November she used a bogus French passport to travel with her husband and child from Holland to Harwich International Port on January 6.

Border Agency officials recognised the passport was fake and she was arrested.

Ayoubi, of Butts Street, Leigh, pleaded guilty to one offence of possessing a false identity document with improper intent – an offence which almost always attracts a jail sentence.

But after hearing of the way the family had treated her Judge Anthony Goldstaub spared her jail. He said: "I think mercy and indeed the spirit of the Court of Appeal dicta entitles me to suspend the sentence."

He sentenced Ayoubi, who has now applied for asylum to 11-month jail term, suspended for 18 months on.

Judge Goldstaub said: “It's not for me to comment on your application save to say that your account of persecution by your family in Iran strikes me, on the surface at least, to have a ring of truth.

"From considerations of ordinary humanity I am bound to have regard to the fact that your child is a British citizen, her father is a British citizen and the stress and emotional discomfort you must have been facing in recent months passes the imagination of most citizens of this country."

He said he would suspend the prison term because of the "emotional and human tangle" of the mother and child.