Sylvia Mushurwa, 42, used a fake UK driving licence and passport and claimed to be someone else to gain work at Tonna Care Services, based in Whitley, in June 2004.

She was described at a hearing in Reading Crown Court as a “model employee” but her deception came to light in February this year and she had to leave the job.

Mushurwa, who was previously housed by the company in Whitewell Close, Arborfield, has been granted refugee status and is now looking for work.

Defending, Oscar Del Fabbro said Mushurwa had fled Zimbabwe, leaving behind a family who she still provided for.

Passing sentence, Mr Recorder Lawson-Rogers said: “I accept you have suffered previously in your home country but when you came here you still recognised an obligation to your family financially and so you sought employment.

“What you did, this court considers to be a very serious offence but having said that you did it for a laudable purpose and the evidence says you have performed your employment very satisfactorily in a worthwhile job.”

He added he did not believe Mushurwa would commit another crime and felt a prison sentence – not even a suspended sentence – would not be necessary.

Mushurwa, who had previously been bailed to a hostel in Norfolk, was ordered to carry out 200 hours community work for a year at the Crown Court hearing last Friday.

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