An illegal immigrant forced to flee her native Ghana fearing she would be stoned to death or burned alive after she was outed as a lesbian used a fake passport to work as a nurse.

Eunice Owusu was working as a popular DJ in her homeland until her sexuality was disclosed to her employer and she was forced to flee her abusive, arranged marriage.

The 34-year-old managed to get a copy of her cousin’s passport to apply for jobs in care homes after initially being denied the right to live and work in the UK.

Teesside Crown Court heard how over an 18-month period she was paid £27,835.70 from five different companies supplying staff to care homes at the height of the Covid pandemic from February 2020 and September 2021.

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John Nixon, mitigating, said Owusu feared for her life due to Ghana’s criminalisation of homosexuality.

He said: “If she is sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment, she faces deportation.

“She is a lesbian lady which was a real issue in her life in Ghana, there was an arranged marriage and he (her husband) was violent and it is quite clear that her sexuality carries a significant sentence in Ghana.

“There are reports of people being stoned to death and burned alive in Ghana.”

Owusu, of Parkfield Way, Stockton, pleaded guilty to five counts of fraud and one charge of possession of an identification document with improper intention.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, had told the court that the defendant’s fraud only came to light when police were called to a domestic incident and Owusu’s partner told them about her illegal status.

She said the defendant admitted using her cousin’s passport to enable her to work in this country.

Owusu had been granted leave to enter the UK for one year on November 6, 2019, but not allowed to work. She was later given permission to stay and work in the UK for five years but she fake document to secure employment.

Judge Howard Crowson said that he was imposing a “merciful” sentence and she walked free with a community sentence with her future to be decided by the Home Office.

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He said: “I understand that your sexuality within your home country Ghana can make your life difficult, which is an understatement, your life could be unsafe and that is why you came to the UK.

“Its primary purpose was for you to work and that’s how you committed the fraud.

“The work that you did in care homes was during a difficult time to work and it continues to be a difficult time.

“The care providers needed somebody to do the work and they paid you to do it – there were no complaints about your work – so I am punishing you for what you did rather for any loss.”

As well as the 18-month community order, she was ordered to attend 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.