A HOMELESS St Neots man who was brought illegally to England as a teenager, beaten and then rescued by social services looks to have been saved from a life on the streets – thanks to the town’s community and The Hunts Post.

Romaric Kouadio, known as Rom, has been living off the generosity of the town’s community as he tried to get the documentation that would allow him to work in the UK.

Rom, who is not even sure of his own age or surname, was smuggled into the country from France in 2002 by a man posing as his stepfather.

He says he was living on the streets of Paris following the murder of his mother when he was offered a way out.

Nine years later, following a catalogue of alleged abuse and disappointments, he was acknowledged as neither British nor French.

The situation had left him unable to work because he could not prove his Right to Work in the UK under Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act.

But a few phone calls by The Hunts Post look to have found a solution that will allow Rom to work, although he is still left with a mountain of red tape to fight to claim a passport.

“I do not know my surname, the names of my parents or relatives or even my country of birth,” he said.

“I was struggling in France and [the stepfather] told me he would bring me here to a better life. But once I got here he told me I was just here to be his slave.”

Rom entered the country as a minor using false documentation obtained by his supposed stepfather. He lived with three other children, also brought from France, in Whitehall Walk, St Neots.

“He [the man purporting to be his stepfather] used to lock me up in the shed in the back garden to sleep, and would beat me with the buckle of his belt.”

He was permitted to attend St Neots Community College where staff became concerned about the marks on his body from beatings he allegedly received, and alerted social services.

Rom was removed from the house on Whitehall Walk and placed in Paynes Mill Foyer, St Neots, which provides support for young homeless people aged between 16 and 21, in 2005.

He set about trying to find work and hit a wall. He had no passport as proof of identity, and his ‘stepfather’ refused to give it to him.

Rom tried to get a replacement from the French Embassy, and after an investigation the French authorities said he was not a French national.

Keith Doe, an advocate for Rom and representative of Godmanchester Baptist Church explained: “When Rom applied for a new passport, the legitimacy of the original one was called into question.

“The French Embassy told him that the original had been obtained fraudulently, which meant that his right to remain in the UK was under threat. They also said that, according to their investigations, Rom wasn’t a French national and they would therefore not be issuing him with a passport.”

Rom made an application to the UK Border Agency to remain in the country as a British citizen, which was turned down in October 2010, on the grounds that the agency believed him to be French.

Since 2005, Rom has had to sleep on sofas and rely on hand-outs for food.

But yesterday (Tuesday), there was some good news for Rom.

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: On the basis of the evidence Mr Kouadio provided, the UK Border Agency believes he is a French national. French nationals are entitled to live and work in the UK providing they are exercising treaty rights under European law.

“This is an automatic right and not one that has to be applied for.

“Mr Kouadio can use the evidence previously submitted to the Home Office to apply for an EEA permit to show he is entitled to reside here.

“It is Mr Kouadio’s own responsibility to resolve any issues he has with the French authorities.”