Luton imposter jailed after using cousin’s identity

The scales of justice
The scales of justice

An imposter who used his dead cousin’s identity for 20 years to live in the UK was jailed at Luton Crown Court last week.

Zahid Chaudary, 47, appeared for sentencing on Friday on four counts of identity theft relating to his British-born cousin Mohammed Arshad, who died in Bradford aged 11 during the 1970s.

Prosecutor Jai Patel told the court that Chaudary arrived in the UK from Pakistan in 1996, speaking no English.

Mr Patel said: “In around August 1996 an application to renew a passport in the name of Mohammed Arshad was made with a photo of Zahid Chaudary.”

Mr Patel said that Chaudary renewed the passport again in 2000 and 2006, changing his name to Mohammed Zahid Chaudary.

“The defendant was arrested in March 2016. He admitted that he had been living and working in this country illegally.

“He said that his uncle, Mohammed Arshad’s father, offered to him his dead son’s identity and to apply for a renewal of that passport so that he could settle in this country.”

After a family dispute, relatives reported the identity theft to police.

Chaudary’s defence described him as a family man of good character, with no previous convictions. Married and with three children, he moved to Luton in 2005.

His defence stated: “In 1996, he was collected by his uncle and cousins at Dover, taken to Bradford and then became party to a scheme they hatched to allow him to remain in the UK.

“The sad part of this is that this gentleman married in 2004 and his wife had no idea whatsoever of his true identity.”

In October 2015, Chaudary surrendered his passport to his cousin’s family and hasn’t had a passport since then.

Sentencing Chaudary to ten months in prison, Judge Richard Foster said: “For 20 years you’ve lived in this country when you should not have done.

“You knew full well what was going on and you allowed it to carry on. I don’t accept that for all this time it was through ignorance, you knew it was wrong and that’s why in the end you came clean.

“It’s only following a rift in your family that you were reported to the authorities and have came before this court.”

Judge Foster noted that Chaudary was of good character, with a wife and three children, and said he “mercifully” passed a sentence of ten months in prison concurrently for each of the four charges.

After surrendering his passport, Chaudary sought the advice of an immigration solicitor. His application for leave to remain in the UK is currently being dealt with by the Home Office.