Nursing student freed on appeal after serving half her prison sentence for fraud

Thandiwe Matikiti had used a fake visa to secure public funding for her Stirling University degree studies

Thandiwe Matikiti had used a fake visa to secure public funding for her Stirling University degree studies

The High Court in Edinburgh, where Thandiwe Matikiti's sentencing appeal was heard  Picture: iStock

A former nursing student who fraudulently claimed £23,000 over three years to fund her degree studies has had her prison sentence overturned.

Thandiwe Matikiti received the public money from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) to undertake a three-year nursing degree at Stirling University. She had used a fake visa to claim she had indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

A prisoner with no previous criminal convictions

Ms Matikiti, from Zimbabwe, had admitted the fraud and been sentenced to 14 months in prison by Livingston Sheriff Court.

But her appeal against the sentence – on the grounds it was excessive and she was of previous good character – was successful.

Lords Turnbull and Glennie at the High Court in Edinburgh agreed Ms Makitiki should be freed having served half her sentence. They said she should have been given a community payback order.

Honour in her motive, and risk of deportation

Ruling on 10 January, the judges said the student's motive had not been to attain an extravagant lifestyle, but rather to fund her education and begin a nursing career in the UK.

They said Ms Makitiki, whose family had been forced to flee Zimbabwe, had had a difficult early life and had shown remorse. They noted a custodial sentence of 12 months or more results in automatic deportation on release.

An SAAS spokesperson said identity checks are carried out on all new students, and in the case of non EU-nationals, this includes evidence of British citizenship, proof of asylum and relevant Home Office documentation.

'Unfortunately where there are financial agreements, bursaries or loans there will always be potential for fraud,’ the official added.

RCN immigration advice service

Related material

The High Court judgement 

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.