Heathrow passenger tries to board Egypt flight with fake Covid-19 certificate

Emmanuel Nere Mehari admits carrying the forged document

British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport in London. EPA 
British Airways planes at Heathrow Airport in London. EPA 

A passenger tried to board a plane at Heathrow Airport with a fake Covid-19 certificate purporting to show that he was fit to fly, a court heard.

Emmanuel Nere Mehari, 27, pleaded guilty to possessing the forged document after presenting it to staff ahead of a flight from London to Egypt on April 12.

The UK's Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Mehari had failed to answer basic questions about the document, which purported to come from a clinic, but drew suspicion from a desk assistant who had not seen one like it before.

The clinic in question subsequently called the airport to say that Mr Mehari had not been there and that the certificate had been altered.

Mehari’s lawyer, Sarj Patel, said his client had been on his way to Egypt to visit a sick relative but did not realise a certificate was needed.

Mr Patel said Mr Mehari had begun to panic and made a “foolish decision to go along with someone who was attempting to help him”.

“He didn’t even look at [the certificate] ... it was a decision made minutes before he presented it to the desk assistant," he said.

Jyothi Somavarapu, prosecuting, said Mr Mehari had “started to become argumentative” when questioned.

He was unable to prove where the test certificate had come from and did not have an email to back it up, Ms Somavarapu said.

The consequences of using a fake certificate “could have been disastrous”, she said.

Mr Patel said Mr Mehari was remorseful for his actions.

Mr Mehari, of north-west London, pleaded guilty to possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud.

He was sentenced to a 12-month community order and 180 hours of unpaid work. He was also fined £180.

Updated: May 4, 2021 09:14 PM

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