AN illegal immigrant, who arrived at the port at Ramsgate hidden in the back of a lorry, and has lived and worked in Edinburgh for three years, has been jailed for 12 months.
Algerian born Mohamed Raffaoui arrived in the UK in February, 2012, claiming he had been born in Palestine and giving a false name. He then disappeared, until being caught by Home Office officials in Edinburgh in November last year.
Raffaoui pled guilty previously in the city’s Sheriff Court to entering the country illegally and having a false identity document. Sentence had been deferred until today (March 4) for a background report.
Fiscal Depute, Gerard Drugan, told Sheriff Nigel Morrison QC that on November 28 last year, Home Office officials were checking on staff at a restaurant in Cockburn Street. Raffaoui gave his name as Amine Myah and claimed to have been born in France. He was unable to produce any documentary proof that day, but the following morning did hand over a French identity card in the name of Amine Myah. The document proved to be a reproduction of a genuine ID card. Raffaoui told the officials he had used it to enable him to get employment in the UK.
Defence solicitor, Murray Robertson, said his client, after arriving in the UK in 2012, had been released from a detention centre and had been living and working in Edinburgh for three years, paying his own rent, had a good group of friends and had caused no difficulties to the authorities. “He is keen to remain here and apart from the illegality of his residence appears to have been acting as a good citizen”. The solicitor added that since Raffaoui had been detained on December 1 last year there had been no follow up by the immigration authorities.
Sheriff Morrison told Raffaoui that in a case such as this there was no alternative to a custodial sentence. The starting point was 18 months, he said, but given the early plea of guilty and what had been said on his behalf, he would reduce the sentence to 12 months, backdated to December 1 last year.