An asylum seeker who illegally worked as an NHS healthcare assistant for almost three years was jailed yesterday.
Zimbabwean Danias Mupasu gave bosses at the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust a forged Home Office letter giving him permission to stay in the UK and seek employment, Warwick Crown Court was told.
The 51-year-old, who came to the UK on a six-month visit visa in June 2004, was paid a gross figure of around £50,000 for working between November 2004 and last September when he was eventually suspended, the court heard.
Mupasu, of Regent Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to obtaining employment by deception and using the false document, which he bought for £150.
Sentencing him to nine months in prison, Recorder Adrian Redgrave QC said: "The dishonest obtainment and then the use of that letter from the Home Office is serious and the courts always impose a prison sentence, partly to impress upon people who might be tempted to do the same sort of thing what the consequences are."
The court was told that Mupasu had made a claim for asylum in April 2005 and was given a registration card which prohibited him from working.
Defence barrister Maninder Kalsi said the defendant was "driven by the desire to feed his family" and felt remorse for what he had done.
She said the conditions in Zimbabwe had forced him to leave his home and look for work in the UK. When he was arrested, Mupasu told police: "You’ve got to survive haven’t you?"
He was arrested following an investigation by the NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS).
In a statement, Roy Vickers, from the NHS CFS, said: "Lying about immigration status or qualifications to gain employment is not acceptable and will not be tolerated by the NHS."
Mupasu was told he would serve around three and a half months of his sentence.