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KOSOVAN DEPORTED; Runaway Welsh refugee sent home as his country gains independence.

Byline: By NATHAN BEVAN

THE refugee who escaped war-torn Kosovo for Wales nine years ago has been deported.

Asylum seeker Edmond Pone wasjust14in1999whenhehidin the back of a lorry and ended up in Tredegar.

He was eventually fostered by Ebbw Vale couple Julia Gregg and Steve Crandon, who also took in fellow stowaway Krenar Lleshi.

And it was "brother" Krenar who hit the headlines when he fell in love with foster mum Julia, 35, and set up home with her in 2006. They have since had a child and got married.

But while Krenar was granted "exceptional leave" to stay in the country because the whereabouts of his real family were unknown, Edmond was not so lucky.

He lost his long fight to stay in the country in 2004, despite a campaign to keep him here winning huge public support.

And he then disappeared, going to ground somewhere in the UK.

Immigration officials finally caught up with the runaway last week and he was arrested in the King's Cross area of London.

Police believe he may have been trying to make his way back to see his adopted family in Blaenau Gwent.

A legal hearing on Thursday decided to send Edmond back to Kosovo, where he still keeps in regular contact with his biological parents.

The decision comes just a fortnight after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia.

Last night Julia Gregg's sister Coral Meek confirmed the Home Office had decided to deport Edmond.

"They decided to send him back and, as far as I know, he's gone already," she said.

"That's that, there's nothing more we can do. I don't know if he'll ever be able to come back here again."

But the family's rector, Reverend Roger He wett, of St Peter's Church in nearby Blaina, added that the arrest's timing was ironic because Edmond had already made the decision to return home permanently.

"He was such an honourable, upstanding lad and hated being a fugitive and having to look over his shoulder for so long," said Rev He wett, who received phone calls from Edmond every few months during his absence.

"I heard that he had finally decided it was safe for him to return to his home country to make a new life there and was just weeks away from going when the authorities caught him."

Commenting on Edmond's case, a spokesman for the Border and Immigration Agency said: "We only seek to remove from the UK people who the asylum decision- making process and an independent court find do not need international protection.

"If an individual in that position refuses to return to their home country voluntarily, we will enforce their removal.

"We would not seek to remove anyone from the UK where there is any barrier to removal such as outstanding legal representations."

Meanwhile Julia and Krenar remain in Wales bringing up their baby daughter Hattie.

Krenar, now a 22-year-old plumber, married Juliain a quiet church service in front of just two witnesses and the family dog.

CAPTION(S):

PONE IS SENT HOME: Edmond Pone who fled from Kosovo, with his foster parents Steve Crandon and Julia Gregg, photographed in 2004 in Ebbw Vale PICTURE: DAVID HURST; KRENAR: Special leave
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 9, 2008
Words:533
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