A mother-of-three from Ghana who stole a dead woman’s identity so she could live in south Wales illegally with her family has been jailed.
Cardiff Crown Court heard Catherine Kyie, 33, defrauded taxpayers out of £100,000 in benefits over eight years.
She and Kenneth Boateng, 45, who posed as her husband, admitted 14 charges of fraud by misrepresentation to enter and stay in the UK illegally.
Both will be deported after serving jail terms of 15 months and 12 months.
The fraud was discovered after relatives of Joyce Pokuaa found her name had been used to renew a passport a few years after her death.
Kyie, who had settled in Newport, was given the longer term as the “prime mover” in the fraud.
The court was told she impersonated Ms Pokuaa – another Ghanaian woman who had married a Dutch man and started a family but who had died.
You obtained benefits through employment and tax benefits to the cost of £104,562”
Ms Pokuaa’s marriage had meant she had been free to travel through Europe.
Judge Patrick Murphy said Kyie began stealing the dead mother’s identity documents in 2004, just months after she gave birth to a son and died in Ghana following childbirth complications.
He told Kyie and Boateng it was now their children who had become the innocent victims.
“You took the chance – they will pay the price,” he said.
“Possession and use of false identity documents are serious offences and go to the heart of undermining the immigration processes of this country.”
Kyie’s documents allowed Boateng to pretend to be her husband so he could illegally gain entry into Britain in 2005, the court heard.
The couple and their three children lived in Britain illegally claiming state benefits and child tax credits.
They lived in Duffryn for eight years while she worked as a cleaner in NHS hospitals and universities, while Boateng worked as a driver and late night security guard.
But Cardiff Crown Court heard they were discovered when relatives of the dead mother’s 10-year-old son wanted him to come to the country.
Prosecutor Roger Griffiths said: “He was unable to travel because it was discovered his passport had been renewed in 2009 by Boateng and a woman claiming to be his mother – although she had been dead for five or six years.”
That passport was eventually found at Kyie and Boateng’s home.
“Police also discovered a Dutch identity card and a passport in the name of Joyce Pokuaa but showing Kyie’s photograph,” added Mr Griffiths.
The court heard two of the couple’s three children were born in the UK.
Claire Pickthall, defending Kyie, said: “It is a serious offence and she accepts her motivation was gain.
“But the gain was only to come to the UK to have a better life for herself and her family – nothing more sinister than that.
“She has worked hard all the time she has been here.”