- Philip Machemedze broke the jaw of one victim with pliers in Zimbabwe
- Judge tells him to work for church for half a day a week and he will avoid jail
- Tory MP said it’s a disgrace he can hide behind Human Rights Act to remain in Britain
By Jack Doyle
Last updated at 12:02 AM on 14th October
A thug who carried out horrifying acts of torture for Robert Mugabe escaped jail yesterday – despite earning £151,000 while working illegally in Britain.
Phillip Machemedze, 47, was able to work here for seven years as a carer for those with learning disabilities and on a unit dealing with drug and alcohol addicts.
He was able to secure the jobs by showing a letter from the Home Office, a National Insurance number and birth and marriage certificates. These documents were not checked properly in a series of failures.
There was outrage earlier this year when he was allowed to stay in Britain to protect his human rights.
An immigration court in May ruled he must be allowed to stay because he could face mistreatment if sent back to Zimbabwe.
Yesterday he admitted breaking immigration rules – but was told he will not be jailed if he volunteers for just half a day a week for the next six months.
Dictator: Robert Mugabe’s former henchman was working as a carer
Machemedze – who is now jobless and trying to claim benefits – admitted two charges of obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception.
Judge Julian Lambert deferred sentencing for six months, but told him he had to work for half a day a week at his local Pentecostal church.
‘I require you to work hard with your church to make better the lives of the poor and needy,’ he said.
‘You should bring letters to show the good work you have done. I expect you to devote half a day each week to serving the community through your church. If I see you have done good work when you return and I have your promise that you will continue that good work I shall give you your liberty.’
Machemedze, from Bristol, worked as a bodyguard in Mugabe’s feared Central Intelligence Organisation.
An immigration hearing heard he committed ‘savage acts of extreme violence’, including torturing numerous political opponents of the Mugabe regime.
He smashed one victim’s jaw with a pair of pliers, before pulling out one of their teeth.
Another victim was electrocuted, slapped, beaten and punched unconscious and a woman victim was taken to an underground cell where she was stripped naked and whipped.
Machemedze admitted putting salt in her wounds.
Tory MP Chris Skidmore, who represents Kingswood, Bristol, said: ‘It’s a disgrace that our system allows these people who have committed crimes elsewhere to remain in this country.
‘It’s ludicrous that people can hide behind human rights acts in order to prevent themselves from being sent back to their own country to face justice.’
Yesterday Richard Posner, prosecuting, told Bristol Crown Court that Machemedze arrived at Gatwick Airport from Zimbabwe in July 2000 and was given a six-month visitor visa which banned him from working.
But he stayed in Britain, working illegally as a carer at the adolescent unit within The Priory, a drug and alcohol recovery hospital, in Stapleton, Bristol, from June 2005 to May 2010.
He also worked as a support worker for the Milestones Trust, a learning disabilities and mental health charity from May 2003 to May 2010.
In April 2005 bosses at the Milestones Trust were tipped off that Machemedze was working illegally but after Machemedze showed them the Home Office letter the matter was dropped.
Mr Posner told the court: ‘At a subsequent meeting the defendant provided a letter from the Home Office confirming he was allowed to work in the UK.
‘That letter was deemed satisfactory and he was allowed to continue to work.
‘This case is primarily the use of that Home Office letter in order to create a deception that the defendant was allowed to work here.’
The court was told that in the seven years he had worked Machemedze took home a net income of around £151,000.
Jane Chamberlain, defending, said her client had indefinite leave to remain in the country and was allowed to work but was now unemployed and seeking benefits. Machemedze’s wife Febbie had been granted asylum.