A bogus groom has been jailed at Leeds Crown Court last week for 12 months after plotting to stage a sham marriage, the UK Border Agency said.
Days before the planned wedding, 23-year-old Shola Bansi Yaya – a Nigerian illegal immigrant – and his fake bride Adejumoke Ariyeye, 24, were arrested as they arrived at church for a meeting with the vicar. The marriage was stopped after an investigation by the UK Border Agency immigration crime team revealed that fake documents were being used in the marriage plans.
Yaya and Ariyeye, together with 20-year-old Portuguese accomplice Maria Da Grava Correia Tavares Da Silva, were sentenced today for arranging the fake marriage that would have enabled Yaya to apply to take up permanent residence in the UK. Yaya and Da Silva had already pleaded guilty, while Ariyeye, a Nigerian who was in the country legally, was found guilty at court last month.
Yaya was jailed for 12 months. Da Silva and Ariyeye both received suspended 12-month sentences.
The court heard how Yaya, who entered the UK illegally in 2003, approached the vicar at St Peter’s Church, Morley, Leeds in October last year to make arrangements to marry Da Silva. However, his marriage application aroused the suspicion of the Registrar to the Bishop and Diocese of Wakefield, who reported the marriage request to the UK Border Agency.
Officers from our immigration crime team launched an investigation into the planned marriage and discovered that many of the details and documents supplied by Yaya were falsified, including his UK address and immigration status. The court also heard that the woman Yaya had taken to meet the vicar was not Da Silva, but was Ariyeye who was fraudulently using Da Silva’s Portuguese passport.
A wedding date was set for Saturday 12 December 2009, but on Tuesday 8 December a staged meeting with the vicar was arranged by the UK Border Agency. When Yaya and Ariyeye (claiming to be Da Silva) arrived at the church, they were arrested by officers from the immigration crime team. Further investigations by the team enabled them to trace Da Silva to an address in London, where she was arrested on 20 January this year. She admitted becoming involved in the scam after she had been offered £500 in exchange for her identity documents.
In interview, Yaya claimed he was introduced to Da Silva in London and then paid £3,000 to arrange a sham marriage to the Portuguese woman. He claimed that Da Silva had subsequently refused to take part in the marriage unless she was given more money, at which point it was arranged for Ariyeye to act as a stand-in.
Jeremy Oppenheim, regional director for the UK Border Agency, said:
‘The UK Border Agency successfully thwarted this attempt to gain illegal residency in the UK by means of a sham marriage. The case demonstrates our determination to take action against those who try to falsify marriages in order to gain entry to the UK.
‘We have specialist teams of immigration officers and police working side by side to investigate and prosecute cases just like this and ensuring people are not able to benefit from breaking the UK’s immigration laws.’
Detective Inspector Don Newlove of the UK Border Agency immigration crime team said:
‘This is one of a number of successful prosecutions into sham marriages carried out by the UK Border Agency North East, Yorkshire and Humberside immigration crime team.
‘This clearly demonstrates the effectiveness of police and immigration officers working together to tackle immigration crime.’ Source: UK Border Agency.
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