False passport man avoids automatic deportation

A Peruvian man jailed for having a false passport will not face automatic deportation from the UK after his sentence was cut on appeal.

Rodrigo Grande Vargas, 47, from Tiverton, Devon, was linked to paramilitary death squads in South America, a previous court heard.

He faced deportation after his 12-month jail term was handed to him in August.

London's Criminal Appeal Court cut his term to eight months. A 12-month term is needed for automatic deportation.

Grande Vargas, who lived in Barrington Street, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court in August after he admitted having a false passport.

It was suggested at a previous court hearing that he had been linked to activities carried out in the early 1990s by government-backed paramilitary death squads who tortured and murdered left-wing guerrillas in Peru.

'More appropriate'

He arrived in the UK and claimed asylum in 2002 after previously living in Ukraine. His claim was rejected.

At the court in August, Prosecutor Ann Reddrop said: "During 2003 and 2004 he was interviewed by immigration officers in connection with this application."

The passport, found at his rented property, was discovered the day he was arrested, she added.

It was a genuine document belonging to a Spaniard which had expired in 2004 and had Grande Vargas's own photograph placed on top of the real one.

Vargas said he had never used the passport and, when interviewed, he said he had been given it by a friend.

His lawyers argued his jail term was "too long", given that he had no relevant previous convictions and he admitted his guilt.

Allowing the appeal, Mr Justice Cranston, sitting with Mr Justice Hickinbottom, said eight months was a "more appropriate" sentence, in light of the fact the passport had expired and there was no evidence it had been used.

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