A court in Northern Ireland recently ruled that a woman who is accused of attempted murder should be moved to an adult facility after a judge decided that there was sufficient evidence that she is not a child as was previously thought.
The woman reportedly came to Northern Ireland and was given access to child protective services as it was believed that she was a teenager.
The woman, for whom no definitive birth date appears to be available, is now believed to be around 24 years of age with reports that the Home Office has as many as five different birth dates on record for her.
She is accused of the attempted murder of a social worker after it was alleged that she attacked the woman from behind with a knife stabbing her in the head, neck, and arm.
She is believed to have travelled to Northern Ireland from Eritrea.
Cases of adult asylum seekers claiming to be minors have been coming to light in the UK in recent years.
An Afghan asylum seeker who went on to murder a man in the UK claimed to be 14 years old and was placed in Bournemouth’s Winton Academy in 2020.
Lawangeen Abdulrahimzai was later convicted of the murder of aspiring marine Thomas Roberts (21) and was sentenced to at least 29 years in prison.
According to reports UK police had been warned several times that Abdulrahimza was carrying knives before he stabbed the young man to death in Dorset after an argument at a takeaway.
In 2018 Abdulrahimzai shot two fellow Afghans dead in Serbia with a rifle before making his way to the UK where he was placed in foster care after claiming asylum.
The then 21 year old was taken in by a foster mother who said she ‘had to accept’ that the man was just 14 years of age.
The woman, Nicola Marchant-Jones, said that the revelations about Abdulrahimzai were ”very distressing” for her and that she had ‘no idea’ about his background before he came to the UK.
In another case in 2018 an asylum seeker from Iran reportedly posed as a 15 year old GCSE student and was placed in a class of children at a school in Ipswich for approximately six weeks.
The man known as Siavash was found to be an adult by the Home Office only after children at the school shared photos of him on SnapChat asking why there was a ‘30 year old man’ in their maths class.
After it emerged that the man had been placed in the school with children as young as 11, parents expressed fury at how the man, who was allegedly pictured on social media drinking beer in Germany with a full beard, was not immediately recognised by school authorities as being an adult.
The father of two teenage girls at the school said that teachers ‘should be sacked’ for failing to recognise the man’s age and failing to safeguard pupils.
According to Migration Watch UK since 2015 the UK has received on average 3,000 unaccompanied child asylum seekers per year. Of these where disputes arose as to the validity of the ages of the asylum seekers, some 54% were reportedly found to be over 18 years.
It was reported that in the last four months of 2021 there were “794 resolved cases and 510 (64 per cent) of those were found to be adults. In the same quarter in 2020 just 225 cases were resolved with 128 (55 per cent) found to be adults”
Kevin Foster, Tory MP for Torbay,commented on the issues saying: “Immigration officers operating at the border perform a difficult but vital function in preventing abuse of the immigration system and protecting genuine children from the safeguarding risks associated with allowing adults to access safe spaces which are properly reserved for children.”