A failed Albanian asylum seeker arranged to have fake Greek identity documents sent to his home address in County Durham in an illicit attempt to obtain employment.

Durham Crown Court heard that Julian Cela, an Albanian national, came to the UK in November 2021 and lodged an asylum application.

Timothy Jacobs, prosecuting, said as he absconded from the address where he had been placed by immigration authorities while the asylum application was assessed, it was withdrawn.

Mr Jacobs said Border Force officers intercepted a mail package, sent from the Greek capital Athens and addressed to "Niko Vasili" at an address with a Hartlepool postal code.

The Northern Echo: Albanian failed asylum seeker Julian Cela jailed at Durham Crown Court for attempting to obtain

Examination of that package revealed it contained a Greek driving licence and passport in the name of Niko Vasili, plus a further passport carrying another Greek name.

The package was resealed and posted onwards, arriving at the address where Cela was living, in Fourth Street, Blackhall, County Durham, on November 27.

Cela was immediately arrested and gave the name of "Niko Vasili" before his true identity came to light.

Mr Jacobs said photographs on the fake documents purporting to be "Vasili" were those of the defendant.

Following his arrest there was a search of the address and further fake Greek identity documents, also bearing his photographs, were found.

When he was subsequently interviewed, Cela denied any knowledge of the fake documents.

The Northern Echo:

But, at a December 21 plea hearing, at the court, appearing via video link from nearby HMP Durham, where he has been on remand since being charged, the 23-year-old defendant admitted two charges of possessing identity documents with improper intentions, knowing them to be false, intending to establish personal information about himself.

When the case came back before the court for sentence on Friday (January 5), the hearing was told Home Office representatives were present in the public gallery to observe proceedings.

Martin Scarborough, in mitigation, said having arrived in the UK in November 2021 the defendant had stayed in Birmingham and Liverpool, but was only at the Blackhall address for about six weeks before he was arrested.

Mr Scarborough said due to his immigration status it was difficult for Cela to find legitimate work in this country.

He assisted those who posted the documents to him by providing his own photograph.

Having been told of case law of similar offending previously heard by courts in England, Mr Scarborough said his client’s “only intention” in this case was to try to obtain employment.

Judge Jo Kidd said once the defendant absconded from the address he had originally been allocated he was, effectively, staying in the UK illegally as his claim was withdrawn.

“You made a deliberate decision to seek out false identity documentation from Greece.

“You knew you were not legally entitled to be in the UK.

“You sought documentation in two different names and, I’m told, the purpose was to provide that false documentation so you could obtain employment.”

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But she added she was of the view the defendant was acting only for his own benefit.

Judge Kidd said it would have attracted a 16-month sentence after trial, but she reduced it to 12-months to reflect his guilty pleas at the first crown court appearance.

She said after his release at the mid-point in the sentence he would be automatically deported and repatriated to Albania.