A woman from Harlow who used a fake birth certificate to apply for a passport so she could bring her husband from Ghana to the UK has been spared jail.
Nancy Williams’ “dark secret” led to her pleading guilty to one count of using a false instrument with intent when she appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on June 7.
40-year-old Williams, of Taylifers, in Harlow, appeared at the same court to be sentenced for her crime on July 12.
Mum-of-three Williams claimed her now dead uncle had secured the false birth certificate for her when she was 29 years old.
Before passing sentence, Judge David Turner QC said: “This is a sad shameful day for you.
“It may well be true you had been born in Lambeth but this was not your birth certificate.
“You used it wrongly to get a passport for yourself.
“In due course you used that passport to secure the entry of your husband from Ghana.”
The court heard how Williams, who has lived in the UK for around 16 years, had no previous convictions.
A part-time agency worker, she is currently in her second year of an online course in health and social care at Anglia Ruskin University.
Williams’ husband, Raymond, who she married in 2008, has been given indefinite leave to remain in the UK as her spouse.
Noting Williams’ good work record, Judge Turner questioned whether or not her conviction would have an impact on future employment.
“There are no issues in respect of debt, drugs, alcohol, mental health or anything else,” said Judge Turner.
“What there is here is a dark secret.
“I’m told the family is involved in church life. I have no doubt you are making a useful contribution.
“There’s nothing to suggest you have made a negative contribution in this country before this allegation.”
He went on to brand those who attempt to circumnavigate passport laws as “cheating the system”, before considering whether to impose an immediate custodial sentence on Williams.
One matter which caused Judge Turner concern was the fact Williams did not appear to be completely truthful when she was interviewed by a probation officer.
“I’m not completely certain you have been quite as frank as you should have been,” he said.
“The people who I’m concerned about are your three sons – there’s nothing to suggest you aren’t a good mother to them.
“You may face challenging times ahead.”
Bearing in mind the submissions of defence solicitor Paul Donegan, Judge Turner sentenced Williams to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.
In addition, Williams was ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work to benefit the community, must pay a victim surcharge and has three months to pay £200 towards prosecution costs.
Before Williams was released, Judge Turner warned her she had come very close to going to prison as a result of her “devious conduct”.