A ‘couple’ who were arrested minutes before they were due to take part in a sham marriage at Leeds Town Hall have been jailed.
A court heard Nigerian Jospeh Iwueke, 33, planned to marry Slovakian Ingrida Stojkova in order that he could stay in the UK.
Iwueke, of Meynell Heights, Holbeck, was jailed for two years and nine months and Stojkova, of Southend Street, Bolton, was given a 15-month sentence after they pleaded guilty to to conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
The pair were arrested moments before the ceremony on July 15 last year in a swoop by police and immigration officials.
Authorities had been tipped off by a registrar who became suspicious when the pair attended the register office a month earlier and were unable to spell each other’s names.
Iwueke had also had to read information about his ‘bride’ from his hand.
Two other men - Obinna Odelugo, 49, and Robert Stojka - were also arrested at the ceremony and found in possession of bundles of cash. They were described as the “fixers” who arranged the fake wedding for financial gain.
Odelugo ran from the ceremony room but was found hiding in a toilet cubicle.
Stojka had initally claimed to be acting as an interpreter for Stojvoka.
Nadim Bashir, prosecuting, said: “His arrival in jogging bottoms to the wedding ceremony left a lot to be desired as to his real purpose in attending.”
Odelugo, of Greenhaven Drive, London, and Stojka, of Higher Market Street, Bolton, were both given sentenced of two years and three months after also admitting conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
The court heard Iwueke was desperate to be married to someone from an EU country so he could remain in the UK. He will be deported after completing the prison sentence.
Stojkova agreed to be his bride in the hope that she would make a financial gain to help make a better life in the UK for her and her son.
Home Office investigator Mark Runagall, from Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations, said: “This group are now paying the price for what was a cynical attempt to bypass the UK’s immigration laws.
“Sham marriage abuse will not be tolerated. We work closely with registrars to identify suspicious marriages and we will rigorously pursue those who try to cheat the system.
“Whether you are an organiser or a participant, we will catch up with you and you will be sent to prison.”