A Sheffield taxi driver forked out £7,000 to marry a woman nearly 13 years his senior so he could stay in the UK, a jury was told.
Gul Khatab and Tracy Coulstock spent their ‘married life’ living three hours or 150 miles apart, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
James Gelsthorpe, prosecuting, said: “This is a case about a sham marriage – one that was not built upon love, mutual respect and companionship, but a combination of greed and dishonesty.”
Khatab, aged 36, of Scott Road, Pitsmoor, came to the UK from Pakistan in October 2005 as a student and was granted permission to stay until April 2010.
On February 15, 2010 – Khatab’s birthday – he married Coulstock, 48, in a register office in his new wife’s home town of Hatfield in Hertfordshire.
Mr Gelsthorpe said: “They exchanged their vows and were pronounced husband and wife.
“Tracy Coulstock was prepared, for the promise of money, to marry a man she didn’t know, a man who lived in a different part of the country to her. Prepared, for money, to go through the pretence of a marriage and take steps to hoodwink the authorities into thinking that their relationship was a genuine one.
“Her marriage was less about passion and more about profit.”
After their marriage, City Taxis driver Khatab allegedly continued the process of trying to gain leave to remain in the UK and made a number of payments into Coulstock’s bank account.
He also shared the cost of Coulstock’s household bills and paid her council tax.
Mr Gelsthorpe said: “These were instalments designed to incentivise and reward her for her ongoing participation in the long process of getting Gul Khatab permanent residency.
“All the while, he lived three hours and 150 miles away, here in Sheffield.
“For Gul Khatab, the goal was an obvious one – the right to settle in the UK.”
When authorities became suspicious about the couple’s marriage, Coulstock, a former security guard, was questioned by police.
Coulstock claimed her marriage was not a sham and the love was reciprocated. She said the payments Khatab had made to her were repayment of a loan for a car and money towards holidays and shared household bills.
In September 2013, Coulstock admitted the marriage had broken down at a time when her mother was unwell and she had a new partner.
The trial continues.