'Wonder woman' jailed for student con

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The Independent Online

A college principal once celebrated as education's "wonder woman" was jailed yesterday for conning overseas students into enrolling for bogus courses.

Roselle Antoine who was made an MBE in the 2006 New Year's Honours List for her services to education, was given an eight-month custodial sentence after luring Jamaican students into signing up for worthless qualifications in the UK. She was also found guilty of providing immigration services to students when not qualified to do so.

Recorder Catherine Newman QC said Antoine "offered [the students] the earth" but gave them "very little to go away with".

She would promise visas to overseas students if they enrolled at TCS Tutorial College in north-west London. But many of the courses were fake, and as a result the students wasted years of study, leaving some more than £2,500 out of pocket.

In mitigation, her lawyer James Cartwright said Antoine's college had done some good work. "She has put a lot of energy into the services provided for disadvantaged people," he said.

But the judge said the crimes were serious enough to warrant a custodial service. "They were vulnerable, they trusted you and you let them down very badly." In a nod to her previous reputation, the judge added: "This is a very, very serious fall from grace."

Antoine, 55, from Greenford, Middlesex, will serve at least four months of her sentence in prison. She was also ordered to pay three victims a total of £3,550 in compensation and court costs of £5,000.