A Nigerian groom has been sentenced to jail for 12 months for staging a sham marriage in order to extend his stay in the United Kingdom.
Twenty-nine-year-old Hull University masters student, Jayeola Abiola and his Portuguese fake bride-to-be, Vania Pinheiro-Fernandes, also 29, were sentenced by a Hull Crown Court in Hull City, UK after they both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to breach immigration law by arranging a marriage so Abiola could remain in the UK. Pinheiro-Fernandes, a former air-hostess, was jailed for eight months.
The couple was busted after the court registrar, Callum McDonald, tipped of officers of the UK Border Agency, saying he was suspicious of the couple because they seemed to barely know each other when they were interviewed at the rehearsal.
Delivering the verdict on Friday, Crown Court Judge Gurdial Singh said sham marriages are too prevalent and strike at the heart of the immigration system.
“You Abiola were in danger of becoming unable to stay in this country,” Singh said. “It was ultimately a sham marriage and you were prepared to pay for it. It was not a question of family and friends wishing to indulge love, to do you a favour.”
To the supposed bride, he said: “You Pinheiro-Fernandes played your part and were to be the bride. You went along with this and bought the dress turning up at the ceremony.”
The total cost of the sham marriage was £5,000 but Abiola had only made a part payment of about £2,500, and was to complete payment after the marriage.
Sentences for the marriage fixer, one Abiola Kumoye and the best man, Ayodeji Abbis who received £1,000 to act the role, were adjourned.
Fake marriages are frequent occurrences in the UK among immigrants seeking to prolong their stay. Two years ago, a scam-marriage mastermind, Phillips Onikoyi and his partner Olajumoke ikoyi were jailed five years by a Leicester Crown Court after they both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to breach immigration law. Five Dutch nationals who were also part of the syndicate were jailed for 18 months, along with three other Nigerians who were handed 12-month prison terms each.