Exeter Airport worker denies having forged visa

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An Exeter Airport worker used a forged visa to allow him to stay in Britain for eight years after he should have returned to his home country of Namibia.

Erasmus Karuuombe got the job through an agency after previously working for Sainsbury's and Costcutter in the city, Exeter Crown Court was told.

He came to Britain on a two-year working holiday visa in 2004 but never returned home and moved to Exeter, where he has been living and working since 2005.

He was arrested while working at Exeter Airport after a Home Office investigation showed he had never asked to extend his stay and had been living in this country illegally.

They found a forged visa which appeared to give him indefinite leave to remain in Britain in his Namibian passport.

Karuuombe, 36, of St David's Hill, Exeter, denies dishonestly using a forged identity document. He says a friend had got him the visa and he believed it to be genuine.

Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said Karuuombe worked through the Blue Arrow Agency in Exeter which checked his credentials.

Staff at the employment agency photocopied his Namibian passport and the visa which appeared to entitle him to work. He already had a National Insurance number from the time when he worked legally between 2004 and 2006.

He said: "The visa was a forgery. It appeared to have been issued in September 2007 by the Home Office but their records show no such residence permit was given.

"He must have known he would have had to contact the Home Office to have his visa extended. This was an attempt by a man who was desperate to stay in this country to pull the wool over the eyes of the authority."

Karuuombe told the jury he believed the visa was genuine. He said he paid a colleague at Sainsbury £50 and £200 on two different occasions to use solicitors to extend the visa.

He said: "I was working in the warehouse at Sainsbury with a man I knew as George who came from Senegal. He said he knew a solicitor who could get the visa extended.

"I believed it was genuine. George showed me his passport with a similar visa."

He said the first visa, which extended his stay for two years, cost £50 and the second, which extended his stay indefinitely, cost £200.

The case continues.