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Bradford sham wedding bid pair are jailed
A “bride” and “groom” who tried to stage a sham marriage in Bradford to dodge immigration laws have been locked up.
Pakistani Tahir Naqqash tried to marry Slovak Zlatica Balogova in an attempt to stay in the UK. The plan was foiled when officers at the UK Border Agency interrupted their ‘wedding’ at Bradford and Keighley Register Office in May last year.
Yesterday mother-of-four Balogova, 29, of Prospect Road, Wapping, Bradford, was jailed for ten months by Judge Christopher Batty at Leeds Crown Court after being found guilty of conspiring to procure a false marriage which would have facilitated a breach of immigration law.
Naqqash, 26, of Carlisle Road, Manningham, Bradford, pleaded guilty to the offence and was jailed for eight months.
Three other people, Slovaks Elemer Danihel, Ervin Lakatos and Natasa Cicuova, who were witnesses or an interpreter at the ‘wedding’, were convicted of the conspiracy.
Lakatos, 43, of Stanacre Place, Wapping, was jailed for six months. Danihel, 30, also of Prospect Road, Bradford, was given a six-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months with 200 hours’ unpaid work. Cicuova, 33, of Stanacre Place, received a four-month jail sentence suspended for 12 months The court had heard Balogova and Naqqash did not share a common language and Naqqash had paid £3,000 to Balogova to marry him.
The court heard officers from the agency visited Balogova at her home the day before the ceremony to warn her that they believed the planned marriage to be a sham, and that she would be arrested if she proceeded. The gang ignored the warning and were arrested at the register office the following day.
Naqqash was in the country on a student visa due to expire at the end of May last year. A search of his house following his arrest uncovered a ‘crib sheet’, with details of his wife to be.
The court heard Balagova was the partner of Danihel and they lived together with their children.
Simon Walker, acting regional director of the agency, said: “This was a cynical attempt to cheat immigration law, and the sentences reflect the severity of the offence. The UK Border Agency will continue to crack down on those who seek to abuse the system.
“The message to those involved in this sort of activity is clear – we have the resources in place and our dedicated officers will work tirelessly to bring you to justice.”
Anyone who has information about suspicious marriages or other forms of immigration abuse should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 in confidence or visit crimestoppers-uk.org.