AN ASYLUM seeker who used a bogus passport and ID documents to work illegally as a cleaner in Sheffield has been put behind bars.
Isatou Suwareh, aged 31, who was originally from the Gambia, posed as a Dutch national in order to gain a job at a cleaning firm.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Suwareh regularly cleaned at the offices of law firm Irwin Mitchell and the BHS department store in Meadowhall – flouting her asylum conditions which banned her from taking employment.
The fraudster kept up the scam for two years – but checks found her passport number was false, and police discovered dozens of fake ID documents when they searched her home.
Suwareh came to the UK from the Gambia pleading asylum in 2008, and two years later took up a job with Mitie Cleaners, based in Rotherham, the court heard.
Laura Marshall, prosecuting, said Suwareh used the fake identity of a Dutch person to show she had the right to work in the UK.
“She used the passport along with various other documents to show she had the right to work in the UK,” Ms Marshall said.
“Checks were made and the passport number was found to be false. Her asylum conditions meant she wasn’t eligible to work in the UK.”
Suwareh was caught by a police operation and on her arrest claimed to be friends with the Dutch person.
She also had a previous conviction for once using a false French ID card.
Catherine Duffy, defending, said: “This is a serious offence, committed out of desperation. She felt she had no option but to gain employment so she could survive in the UK.”
Ms Duffy said Suwareh had a ‘very difficult background’, was forced to marry aged 16 and sexually abused.
“She has two children that live in Gambia with her younger brother,” she said.
“She had to leave Gambia after witnessing an assault. Following that, she feared for her life and had to flee the country.”
Suwareh divorced her husband in 2008 when she came to the UK.
Her original application for asylum was refused, Ms Duffy said, and Suwareh had to register with the UK Border Agency every fortnight while her case was being reviewed.
She now lives with her fiancé, and the couple have made a partnership application together, the court heard.
Sentencing, Judge Roger Keen QC said: “This was a carefully-prepared fraud from the start using a variety of important documents, and it went on over a period of two years.
“Your position is aggravated because you have been convicted of a similar previous offence.
“It’s too serious for anything other than immediate custody.”
Suwareh, of Delta Way, Maltby, Rotherham, admitted fraud and was jailed for nine months.