Bulgarian woman and Pakistani man from Tooting jailed for foiled sham marriage in Morden Register Office
A bride and groom arrested at the altar just moments before they could say 'I do' have been jailed.
Members of staff at the Merton Register Office in Morden raised the alarm when they noticed little interaction between Pakistan national Arfat Hussain, 24, and his Bulgarian 'bride' Aneta Kaleeva, 25.
Immigration officials from the Home Office swooped on the couple minutes before the ceremony was due to begin.
The scheming pair was jailed for eight months at Croydon Crown Court after both admitting one charge each of knowingly and willfully making a false oath to procure a marriage certificate or licence.
The judge ordered two further charges of facilitation to remain on file.
The court heard how Hussain, of Selkirk Road, Tooting, was attempting to marry Kaleeva in order to gain leave to remain in the UK as the spouse of a European national.
Blushing bride Kaleeva, of Garner Road, Walthamstow, is said to have attempted another sham marriage with a 28-year-old Bangladeshi man whose leave to remain in the country had been curtailed.
The court heard how that marriage was cancelled at the last minute and the groom voluntarily left the UK shortly afterwards.
Hannah Shirley, from the Home Office Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations team, said: "We are working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships. "These convictions are examples of the success that we are having.
"Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening."
The fake ceremony was due to take place on Friday, January 3. The hearing at Croydon Crown Court took place on Wednesday, January 22.
Anyone with information about suspected immigration abuse can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 anonymously or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
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