Seven Wolverhampton people jailed for Wrexham sham marriages

Top: Sandra Beleckaite, Oskana Alexsandraviciute, Jasbir Singh, Manpreet Singh. Bottom: Andrej Stepanov, Antannas Beleckas, Jaspal Singh Sahota The sham couples (top) did not have much contact with each other during pre-ceremony interviews. The other three men helped or organised the conspiracy.

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A bride at a sham double wedding pointed to the wrong "groom" when quizzed by Border Agency officials, Mold Crown Court has heard.

The ceremony in Wrexham was raided after the registrar became suspicious during pre-ceremony interviews with the Lithuanian women and the Indian men.

Five men and two women admitted conspiracy to breach UK immigration rules and were given jail terms at the court, sitting at Chester.

The two "grooms" also face deportation.

The court heard the two couples and three other men were arrested as they arrived at Wrexham Register Office on 30 August 2011 ahead of the ceremonies they had planned.

Start Quote

Those who enter into sham marriages to frustrate the country's immigration controls must expect sentences that deter others”

End Quote Judge Niclas Parry Mold Crown Court

The UK Border Agency's (UKBA) Criminal and Financial Investigation team found the couples had no common language and could only communicate to each other through interpreters.

Both women claimed to have been in sexual relationships with their intended, but the men said they had only kissed their "brides" on the cheek.

The seven, all from Wolverhampton, admitted arranging the sham marriages at hearings before Tuesday's sentencing.

They are:

  • Lithuanian national Andrej Stepanov, 28, jailed for one year and four months
  • Lithuanian Sandra Beleckaite, 21, jailed for 304 days
  • Lithuanian Oskana Alexsandraviciute, 37, for 304 days
  • Lithuanian Antannas Beleckas, 27, for one year and three months
  • Indian national Manpreet Singh, 27, a sham groom, jailed for one year
  • Indian national Jasbir Singh, 21, a sham groom, for 11 months
  • UK national Jaspal Singh Sahota, aged 51, for two years and two months.
'Trusted'

Both Singhs face deportation after serving their terms.

The court heard Sahota had been a well-known businessman, trusted in his community, who carried out charity work both at home and in India.

Paul Abraham, defending, denied his client had been paid as much as £7,000 for helping organise the sham weddings.

He said was "not sophisticated but nonsensical" to have moved from Wolverhampton where mixed marriages were common place to an area like Wrexham where they "stuck out like a sore thumb".

He said: "It was a bit of a shambles. The risk of detection was almost inevitable."

Judge Niclas Parry said it was a serious conspiracy aimed at cheating the immigration laws to ensure that two men could remain in the UK when they should not.

'Shortcut'

He said: "Those who enter into sham marriages to frustrate the country's immigration controls must expect sentences that deter others."

After the sentencing, Dave Offside, of the UKBA's Criminal and Financial Investigation team, said: "The two grooms in this case saw sham marriage as a potential shortcut to a life in the UK, but they have ended up behind bars.

"The brides were prepared to marry people they barely know in exchange for cash and the others involved also stood to gain financially.

"The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face jail."

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