Top Sierra Leone athlete arrested for outstaying UK visa

12 Mar 2015 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Jimmy Thoronka, 20, a top athlete from Sierra Leone, has been arrested in London for overstaying his UK visa.

The athlete was his country's top 100 metre sprinter in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last year. He was said to have a great sporting career ahead of of him, but he disappeared after the games.

Thoronka has now been found living rough in London and police arrested him last week (Friday 6th March) for overstaying his visa.

Speaking to the Guardian ahead of his arrest, Thoronka explained why he had evaded the authorities and remained in the country after the expiration of his visa: “I can’t go back to Sierra Leone because my whole family has been wiped out and I can’t make it alone. Nobody is doing athletics there now. Ebola has destroyed so much. But I can’t survive here either if I continue living like this.”

He described a difficult life living on the streets after his bag with money and passport was stolen at Glasgow station. After begging a fare to the capital, he has eked out an existence on the streets that bares little reflection to his former glory as an athlete.

Thoronka is said to understand the legal implications of remaining in the country following the expiration of his visa, but he maintains that he has had no other option following the destruction of his country and family by ebola.