A GHANAIAN woman who fled her home country for fear of being married off has been jailed for using a fake passport.

Sandra Donkor, of Penhill, was sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday, for handing in a counterfeit Maltese passport at Oxford Job Centre.

The court heard the 34-year-old used the document bearing her name on May 2 of this year, to apply for a National Insurance number.

A Department for Work and Pensions expert noticed a poorly-made holographic stamp and a missing watermark, and Donkor was arrested at her next Job Centre visit on May 23.

The defendant moved to the UK in 2011 on a six-month visa but overstayed to work, in hope of a better life, the court heard.

Mitigating, Jane Brady said: “She was escaping a situation in Ghana - her two sisters had been married off to wholly inappropriate people, and she was very fearful that would happen to her.

“She knows if she goes back to Ghana, she will fall into the same trap.”

Ms Brady said a man approached Donkor and lied that he could get her a genuine Maltese passport, due to an agreement between EU countries.

She added: “They prey on people who are desperate and trusting.

“He put pressure on her and she had to try to work to pay him the money.

“She was stuck in a cycle she couldn’t escape from...she thought it was a genuine passport. It was her genuine belief that someone was trying to help her - she’s been stupid and naive, but she has been taken advantage of.”

Donkor pleaded guilty to one count of possession of an identity document with improper intention.

Judge Nigel Daly gave credit for her situation, and sentenced her to six months in prison, plus a victim surcharge.

He said: “The passport system protects citizens of countries - anything that attacks that system must be dealt with quite severely.”

As she has already spent two months in custody awaiting sentence, she will only half to serve a little more than a month longer before being allowed out on licence.