A British Army veteran who served in Iraq now faces deportation

Joram Nechironga in his British Army uniform

Joram Nechironga received a deportation order to Zimbabwe from the Home Office (Image: PA)

A British Army veteran who has lived in the UK for over 20 years “lives in fear every second” of being deported to Zimbabwe.

Joram Nechironga, 42, served in the armed forces here in Iraq for five years.

But he is now in a legal battle with the Home Office, which wants to deport him to Zimbabwe, where he says he has no connections now and it would be dangerous for him.

Father-of-two Mr Nechironga said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) linked to his experiences on the front lines, which saw him eventually turn to drinking.

He served 17 months in prison until 2019 on a conviction for assaulting a family member.

Since then, the government has been trying to remove him from the country.

Mr Nechironga said he apologizes for his mistakes and wants to be given the chance to continue his life in the UK and receive the treatment he needs for his mental health.

He spent time at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center in Uxbridge, west London

He spent time at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center in Uxbridge, west London (Image: PA)

The House of Commons has heard he “turned his life around” as a painter and decorator after his release, with his local MP for Coventry Zarah Sultana urging ministers to intervene.

Mr. Nechironga served with Supply Regiment 9 at Hullavington Barracks in Wiltshire.

The Coventry resident is now hoping to raise funds to launch a judicial review.

He fears for his safety if he is returned to Zimbabwe and claims he was “tortured and beaten” for his service in the British army and was seen as a “spy” when he last visited in 2006.

The Interior Ministry does not accept this request due to “inconsistencies” in Mr Nechironga’s account and wants him to leave the country as soon as possible.

His recent petitions for protection and for his deportation order to be lifted have been rejected by the Home Office.

He said: “I live in fear every second, they put my life on hold.

“I went to jail and did my time, and after that I did my parole and I was done.

“I had no problem living with people in the community. I’m not a person who has been in prison that many times, it was the first time since I’ve been in this country.

“Having a judicial review is my only hope at the moment and it is important to me, only I have to ask my partner and family for help if they could help me, but they are mentally and financially exhausted to help me. “

Mr Nechironga was granted permanent residency in the UK in August 2007.

He was served with a deportation order in January 2019 after being sentenced to 32 months in prison, of which he served 17 months, including 15 months on probation.

Mr Nechironga spent almost a month at the Colnbrook Immigration Removal Center near Heathrow between February and March this year and was nearly deported on March 2.

He said: “I feel hopeless every time I hear a knock on my door. I just feel weak because of the way the immigration office came and picked me up.

Undated family photo of Joram Nechironga in his army uniform

He served five years with the 9 Supply Regiment, based at Hullavington Barracks (Image: PA)

“It was scary for me because with my PTSD and the way they wanted to push me off and put me on a bus, I wasn’t expecting this kind of treatment.”

Since his release from Colnbrook, Mr Nechironga said he was unable to work, study or claim benefits.

Lawyers acting on his behalf have issued statements based on his mental health, PTSD and the “dangerous environment” he was in Zimbabwe.

The Interior Ministry told Mr Nechironga, in response to an application for protection: “It is alleged that you have not demonstrated a well-founded fear of persecution, so you are not entitled to asylum.”

When he asked for the deportation order to be overturned, the department replied that there was “no reason to overturn the deportation order”.

Documents show the decisions were made by the department on April 14, but this was not communicated to Mr Nechironga until June 13.

Tann Law Solicitors’ Andrew Nyamayaro said this appears to be a “trick” to thwart a judicial review, which must be presented to the court within three months of the date of the decision.

Mr Nyamayaro, who has legally represented Mr Nechironga, said: “For reasons best known to him, the Home Office made the decision in April but faxed it to us a few days ago.”

He added: “Joram is still at risk of deportation and therefore it is important to have a judicial review.”

Mr Nyamayaro said he advised Mr Nechironga to seek out a firm that still offers legal aid as they no longer take legal aid cases and instead have to charge him.

He added: “Any financial well-wishers are welcome if they are to continue with us as they are struggling financially.”

The costs associated with a judicial review could be in excess of £3,000 and increase at an oral hearing.

The Home Office said Mr Nechironga has three months to start a judicial review from the date he received the letter, rather than the April date stated in the letter.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Our priority will always be to protect our communities, which is why we make no apologies for trying to remove foreign criminals, and as of January 2019 we have removed more than 10,000.”

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Justin Scacco

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