By Staff Reporter
A ZIMBABWEAN man who was arrested in the United Kingdom after being caught with a stash of fake passports, driving licences and other documents has been spared jail.
Charles Nyongo, of Leeds, was arrested following a raid by UK Border Agency staff.
Leeds Crown Court heard the 41-year old father-of-two, of Hunslet, was arrested at his girlfriend’s house in Regent Court, Briggate, last February.
Officers searched the property and found a bag, belonging to Nyongo, containing five passports including several forgeries, two driving licences, fake bank details and a selection of passport stickers made on a home computer.
Prosecutor Angus Macdonald said Nyongo was in possession of some “sophisticated” forgeries and documents that were intended for “an extensively and skilfully planned fraud”.
He pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing documents without a lawful excuse, including possession of three forged passports and one forged driving licence in his own name.
Warner Falk, for Nyongo, said he had simply been found with the various items but there was no evidence of what he intended to do with them, or that any of the passports had in fact been used.
He added Nyongo’s reason for possessing the documents was simply to help people in his native Zimbabwe buy goods, and to “assist those who are in an unfortunate position” by “helping them to indicate that they have been abroad so they can buy goods”.
“There is no evidence here of the scale of what was intended at all, of the exact way in which the articles would be used”, Mr Falk said.
Judge recorder Tahir Khan noted Nyongo had been convicted of a “not dissimilar” offence in 2007: “You had possession of these documents without lawful excuse. This is sufficiently serious to justify a custodial sentence.” However he told him: “I sentence you on the basis that you were the custodian of this bag for someone else”.
He gave Nyongo a 12-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months, and ordered him to do 300 hours of community service.