AN illegal worker found on the construction site of Britain’s newest prison has been jailed.

Judge Rhys Rowlands told the man it was ironic he had been involved in the construction of a prison only to now find himself as an inmate in one.

Immigration enforcement officers raided the site of the new £212 million Berwyn Prison in Wrexham on Friday, April 15.

A Ukrainian man said to have been in the UK illegally for 10 years was arrested when he produced two false Latvian driving licences.

Volodymyr Pidodvirnyy, 37, admitted possessing the two false Latvian driving licences as identification documents at the prison construction site.

He appeared at Mold Crown Court via a live link from Altcourse Prison in Liverpool and was jailed for 30 weeks.

He accepted that he entered lawfully in 2005 on a 12-month working visa but he remained when it expired.

The defendant had bought Latvian driving licences with his details on them.

With Latvia being part of the EU, they purported to show he was entitled to work in the UK.

The documents were used to obtain employment, but he was an “over-stayer” who had no right to be in the UK, the court heard.

Prosecutor Emmalyne Downing said one of the false passports expired last year and the order was said to be valid until 2023.

Asked by immigration officers at the prison site if they were false, Pidodvirnyy said he was not sure.

The prosecutor said she had not established whether the defendant had been served with deportation documents and said she would make no application but leave it to the immigration authorities.

Barrister Hitesh Keshvala, defending, said his client left Ukraine because of family poverty and worked legally for 12 months at a hotel in Cumbria under a visa.

But when it expired he asked about extending it and was told it would be unlikely.

Conditions in Ukraine had not improved and he made a decision to remain in the UK to seek further work.

He obtained the driving licences simply to work, he qualified to work in the construction industry and had worked on various government projects including schools and hospitals.

It was when he was working on the prison project that he was arrested.

The income Pidodvirnyy generated had been used to survive in the UK and to send back to his family – and he had been properly paying his taxes

for the last 10 years.

Pidodvirnyy, of John Street, Manchester, accepted his guilt but Mr Keshvala stressed his client was a man of previous good character who had

co-operated fully and suggested a suspended sentence.

His client had stable accommodation and could carry out unpaid work but the judge said it had to be immediate custody.

l During the defendant’s first appearance, his solicitor Stephen Edwards said officers from Liverpool raided the prison site and a number of illegal workers were arrested.

“It’s quite ironic to say the least,” he told magistrates.

“It is fair to say that Wrexham custody suite looked very much like the United Nations yesterday, when a large number of males were brought in.”

Mr Edwards told the court those who did not have false documents on them had been taken directly to an immigration centre.

His client had produced two false driving licenses and had been kept in custody to appear in court.

The £212 million prison facility will be big enough to hold around 2,000 inmates when it opens in February of next year.

HMP Berwyn has been named after the Berwyn Range of mountains locally.

See full story in the Leader

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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