West Law Report

Prison apt for false passport

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on July 22, 2008

From The TimesJuly 17, 2008

Prison apt for false passport
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Published July 17, 2008
Regina v Mabengo
Regina v Lomoka
Regina v Salang
Regina v Birindwa
Before Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Chief Justice, Mr Justice Goldring and Mr Justice Plender
Judgment June 18, 2008

A 12-month prison sentence for using a false passport was appropriate even though it had not been used to gain entry to the United Kingdom but in order to obtain work.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, so held in dismissing appeals by Mabengo Mabengo, Mbango Lomoka, Kazadi Salang and Manzabi Birindwa against 12-month prison sentences imposed by Judge Hopkins, QC, at Cardiff Crown Court on April 9, 2008, for possession of a false identity document with the intention of using it for establishing registra-ble facts, contrary to section 25(1)(a) of the Identity Cards Act 2006, but quashing each recommendation for deportation.

The appellants were failed asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had renewed their asylum applications but were not entitled to asylum-seeker support or to obtain employment.

Mr Peter Davies, assigned by the Registrar of Criminal Appeals, for the appellants.

MR JUSTICE GOLDRING, giving the judgment of the court, said that each appellant had supplied a false European Union passport in a false name in order to obtain employment.

The judge said that there had to be an element of deterrence in such a case in order to send out the message that the production, supply and use of false passports would always attract sentences of immediate imprisonment and, where the power existed, recommendations for deportation.

The appellants made two fundamental submissions: first, that the length of the sentences was out of line with the authorities; such sentences would have been appropriate for someone who used a false passport in order to gain entry to the United Kingdom, not, as here, in order to obtain work; second, that no order for deportation should have been made.

In their Lordships’ judgment, the possession and the use of deliberately created false passports was a serious matter.

The appellants had failed in their applications for asylum. They had remained in the United Kingdom. They knew they could not work. In order to deceive and to avoid their true status being discovered they used false passports. The judge was entitled to impose 12-month prison sentences.

As to deportation, the judge was obliged to weigh the seriousness of the offence as against other factors drawn to his attention. He did not sufficiently balance that against each appellant and his background.

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