Deceit Charge Asylum Seeker Can Stay

A Zimbabwean man has won the right to stay in the UK – bringing to an end 84 days on remand in prison. Thomas Mvemve, a former paramedic, had been arrested after using a fake letter from the Home Office to obtain paid work which he was barred from doing. Luton Crown Court heard that while his asylum application was being considered the 49-year-old got work with a care agency and earned £15,000, on which he paid tax and national insurance.

But when he tried to get work with the Bedford and Luton Mental Health and Social Care Partnership in February this year the fake letter was spotted, said prosecutor Avirup Chaudhuri. He was arrested in September at his WGC home and remanded in custody.

He pleaded guilty to obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, possessing a false document with intent and asked for an offence of attempted deception to be taken into consideration.

Deidre Collins, defending, said he came to this country in 2002 with the status of a student, and claimed political asylum. That was only finally determined on Monday last week and Mvemve was given the news the following day.

Miss Collins said: “He found himself unable to provide for his family. He was a fully-trained paramedic and had also worked with the fire and ambulance service in Zimbabwe. While working here he was described as very hard working and dedicated. He is ashamed that he bought the fake letter but has suffered a great deal in custody. He has been depressed and has had high blood pressure.”

Judge Michael Kay QC said his case was different to those who also use false passports to beat the system. He said: “It has taken a substantial time for your asylum status to be resolved, but you now have permission to stay in this country and I hope you can now do useful work here. I am passing a sentence with the intention that you should be released virtually immediately.”

He was given a six-month jail sentence, of which half would be served but his time on remand would be deducted.