This is the moment a sham marriage bride is handcuffed minutes before her wedding ceremony after a suspicious registrar told investigators the ‘couple’ couldn’t spell each other’s names.
Nigerian Joseph Iwueke, 33, was due to marry Slovakian Ingrida Stojkova, 29, in Leeds last July so he could stay in Britain.
But they were arrested moments before their fake wedding was due to start after officials at a pre-marriage meeting noticed the groom reading details about his supposed bride from the back of his hand.
Iwueke, Stojkova and two others have now been jailed for conspiracy to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law.
Leeds Crown Court heard that authorities had been tipped off by a registrar who became suspicious when the pair attended the register office a month earlier and were unable to spell each other’s names.
Two other men – Obinna Odelugo, 49, and Robert Stojka – were also arrested at the ceremony and found in possession of bundles of cash.
They were described as the ‘fixers’ who arranged the fake wedding for financial gain.
Odelugo ran from the ceremony room in West Yorkshire but was found hiding in a toilet cubicle.
Stojka had initially claimed to be acting as an interpreter for Stojvoka, of Bolton, Lancashire.
Nadim Bashir, prosecuting, said: ‘His arrival in jogging bottoms to the wedding ceremony left a lot to be desired as to his real purpose in attending.’
Iwueke was jailed for two years and nine months and Stojkova was given a 15-month sentence after they pleaded guilty to to conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
Odelugo, of London, and Stojka, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, were both given sentences of two years and three months after also admitting conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law.
Stojka was ordered to pay back £1,000 within seven days, while Odelugo was ordered to pay back £2,000.
The court heard Iwueke was desperate to be married to someone from an EU country so he could remain in the UK. He will be deported after completing the prison sentence.
Stojkova agreed to be his bride in the hope that she would make a financial gain to help make a better life in the UK for her and her son.
When confronted by officers, Iwueke and Stojkova continued to insist that their marriage was genuine, but when they were asked they were still unable to spell each other’s surname, the court heard.
Iwueke was unable to tell officers Stojkova’s date of birth, where in Slovakia she was from, where she lived and what her house was like.
Stojkova told police she met Iwueke in a nightclub in Bolton and they had arranged to meet for coffee the next day, despite not having a common language.
When pressed by officers to name and describe the nightclub she became upset and began shouting that she did not want to talk anymore and that she loved Iwueke.
Sentencing, Judge Sally Cahill QC said to Iwueke: ‘This conspiracy involved you Iwueke, who had come to this country from elsewhere, you had been due to leave this country in July last year.
‘Instead of staying through lawful channels you entered into an arranged marriage.
‘You were the groom and in my view the person who had the most to gain as you would have been free to stay in this country.’
She told Stojka and Odelugo they arranged this marriage ‘purely for financial gain’ and an ‘opportunity to make some quick money’.
Judge Cahill told Stojkova: ‘You entered this arrangement because you hoped you would be looked after. You clearly didn’t know each other.
‘You saw an opportunity for yourself to gain a better life. In my view you had the least to gain.’
After the case, Home Office investigator Mark Runagall, from Immigration Enforcement Criminal Investigations, said: ‘This group are now paying the price for what was a cynical attempt to bypass the UK’s immigration laws.
‘Sham marriage abuse will not be tolerated. We work closely with registrars to identify suspicious marriages and we will rigorously pursue those who try to cheat the system.
‘Whether you are an organiser or a participant, we will catch up with you and you will be sent to prison.’