Domestic violence victim used fake name to work as a carer in Yorkshire for 14 years - before she was caught out by Facebook

Erica Martin, 50, was so desperate to escape the clutches of her controlling and evil husband, she fled her home country of Trinidad and Tobago and travelled to Leeds.
Erica Martin, 50, was so desperate to escape the clutches of her controlling and evil husband, she fled her home country of Trinidad and Tobago and travelled to Leeds.
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A woman who used fake documents to obtain work as a carer for 14 years after fleeing to Yorkshire to escape her violent husband has spoken of her deep remorse after she was found guilty of fraud.

Erica Martin, 50, was so desperate to escape the clutches of her controlling and evil husband, she fled her home country of Trinidad and Tobago and travelled to Leeds - where her sister and mother lived - to start a new life.

Erica Martin, 50, was so desperate to escape the clutches of her controlling and evil husband, she fled her home country of Trinidad and Tobago and travelled to Leeds

Erica Martin, 50, was so desperate to escape the clutches of her controlling and evil husband, she fled her home country of Trinidad and Tobago and travelled to Leeds

Using the identity of a woman called Wendy Harrison and false documents, she obtained work at a care home in Leeds where she managed to work for 14 years.

Her fraud was only uncovered when a friend set up a Facebook account in her false name, leading to the real Wendy Harrison, who was receiving benefits, starting to receive letters from HMRC.

Erica said: "I made a promise to myself when I cam here that I would never rely on another man again and I would be independent.

"When I first got the job I kept myself to myself, I didn't want people to know what I had done.

"Time just went on and on and then I had got to 14 years without anyone knowing.

"I loved my job, I was good at it and I was a voice for the residents and they held me in high regard.

"For me it wasn't about the money, it was the love of being independent. The job made me feel valued and special.

"When my mum died in 2011, I was able to pay for her funeral, it was like I could give something back to her for everything she had done for me.

"She died before I got caught by the police, but if she had been alive I feel like she would have been disappointed in me as she had always taught her children to abide by the law."

Erica bravely speaks of the physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her violent husband, which forced her to flee her home country.

"He used to tell me that I wasn't wanted and that because my mum and sister had moved to the UK, no one loved me," she said.

"I didn't have any friends, he made sure of that.

"All of my skirts had to be ankle length and my tops had to have long sleeves.

"I worked as a maths tutor and he would come and sit in my lessons and watch me.

"His violence was also physical. He would hit, punch and kick me many times, telling me I deserved it."

Erica managed to escape to live with her mother and sister in 2002, but when her visa ran out, she was forced to return to Trinidad and to her husband.

"When I got back the abuse was even worse," she said.

"He said to me I can kill you and bury you anywhere and just tell people you have gone back to England. No one will ever know."

With those words fixed in her mind, Erica made a second attempt to freedom and returned to the UK where she used the false name and documents to start her job as a carer.

She began to make a new life for herself and made lots of new friends through her job and even gained a promotion.

"My best friend kept telling me I needed a Facebook account so I could keep up to date with events everyone had planned," Erica said.

"I let her set it up for me, I hardly used it, but in time when we went out I was tagged in pictures.

"I didn't know, but the person whose name I was using, started getting letters from HMRC because she was receiving benefits, but their information showed she was employed as a carer and getting money.

"She did some research on Facebook to see if anyone was using her name and that's when my picture came up."

It was 5.30pm on May 6, 2018, when Home Office investigators paid Erica a visit at her work.

"My colleague said there were some men in suits waiting outside and that she thought they could be from the CQC," Erica recalls.

"I knew straight away that it was immigration and they were here for me.

"They asked me if I was Wendy Harrison and took me to their car, where I owned up to who I really was."

Erica spent a night in the cells at Elland Road Police Station and was subsequently charged with three counts of fraud, totalling more than £180,000.

A month later she appeared at Leeds Crown Court where she pleaded guilty to the offences and was given a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to carry out 200 hours of community service.

This is where Erica was introduced to the West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company who work with female offenders in the community.

Erica started her voluntary work at the Sue Ryder charity shop in Leeds and has thanked the CRC for introducing her to other vital services which have helped get her life back on track.

She has become a volunteer for UserVoice, sharing her experience of the criminal justice system with others and also volunteers with the Together Women Project by helping other women who have been victims of domestic abuse.

Erica said: "These services have helped me accept myself

"I am very remorseful for what I have done and it has been very difficult to forgive myself.

"I have felt worthless and lost friends and family over what I did and there have been times where I felt I would have been better of dead than alive, but through these services I am rebuilding my life and creating a future in the right way.

"I have been given a change at life and it is a chance I am going to take open and honestly."

Erica had her final meeting with the Home Office on April 18, and is now waiting to hear whether she can remain in Leeds.