Italian mum pretended to be African refugee to claim benefits

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A MUM staged a courtroom protest when a judge said she would be jailed over a £5,000 asylum scam.

Silvana Condomiti was given Government handouts after she deliberately lied to officials about her name and nationality.

Newcatle Crown Court heard the mum-of-two claimed to be an Eritrean refugee who needed to claim asylum from her African homeland, in February 2010.

In reality, the 39-year-old was an Italian national with her own, valid passport.

As a result of her lies, Condomiti, of Norfolk Street, Sunderland, was paid £4,751 in support allowances over a five-month period.

Judge Simon Hickey said her dishonesty was as “clear as winter ice” and told her “you deliberately lied”. He jailed her for 36 weeks.

When Judge Hickey said she must serve the custodial term, Condomiti said she would rather die than serve time in jail, and refused to go with the dock officer through a door at the back of the court.

Condomiti then sat down in the dock and ignored repeated requests for her to leave the courtroom and start her jail sentence.

It was only when the officer called for back-up that Condomiti, who repeatedly stated “I will not go to jail”, agreed to be escorted from the dock by a female guard.

The court heard Condomiti had made the false claim to officials in Croydon.

When her asylum claim expired, Condomiti made a claim for job seekers’ allowance, then made three trips in and out of the country.

She was arrested in November last year when she came to the attention of the authorities by using her own passport.

Judge Hickey told her: “This was a sophisticated offence, giving different identities and a deliberate, planned offence.

“It was a fraud from the outset. You were coming, effectively, in and out of our stystems between August 2010 and November 2013.”

The court heard Condomiti’s two children are in the care of grandparents in Eritrea.

Jamie Adams, defending, said Condomiti had been confused at the time of the false claim as a result of an injury.

Condomiti had pleaded guilty to making a false statement to claim asylum support.