FIVE people arrested during a ‘hasty, haphazard and amateur’ sham marriage ceremony at Sheffield Town Hall have been jailed, writes David Walsh.
A Slovakian ‘bride’, her lover, her nephew, the Pakistani ‘groom’ and his uncle were sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court after pleading guilty to plotting to breach immigration law.
The court heard pregnant Renata Toracova, aged 37, turned up at the ceremony on September 10 last year in a stripy top and black leggings, failed to acknowledge her betrothed and was clearly in a hurry to get it over with.
Toracova, who is married to a Slovakian but is pregnant by her boyfriend, co-defendant Ladislav Mizagar, was jailed for eight months but has already served six months on remand.
‘Groom’ Sajid Ali, 31, of Calvert Road, Darnall, was jailed for 12 months by Recorder Paul Reid who said his offence was more serious because he was the ringleader who was set to gain permanent residence from the union.
His uncle Mahtab Khan, 37, of Horbury Road, Ossett, West Yorkshire, who was found to have £1,400 in his pocket when arrested, was jailed for 46 weeks. He denied the money was payment for the bride, claiming it was for Eid gifts, until yesterday after discussions with his barrister.
Toracova’s lover Ladislav Mizagar, 40, was jailed for nine months, as was her 22-year-old nephew Michal Gazi. Both signed the Notice of Marriage a month before and were at the ceremony. The court heard wedding rings costing just £15 each had been bought at Argos that morning.
Recorder Reid said: “It was obvious to all it was a sham marriage, planned in advance but carried out in a hasty, haphazard and amateur fashion, but designed to flaunt immigration laws. The offence is treated with great seriousness by this country.”
The court heard suspicions were aroused when the ‘wedding party’ attended Sheffield Register Office to complete forms in August.
Deputy Supt Registrar Lois Bradley realised neither spoke each other’s language and interactions between them appeared false. They were arrested on their return in September in an operation by the UK Border Agency’s specialist Immigration Crime Team.
Investigations showed Ali had entered the country on a student visa but was working in Bradford in breach of its rules, the court heard.
Toracova was living with Mizagar and Gazi on Lloyd Street, Burngreave. She told police she agreed to a suggestion by her landlord in London to marry Ali and in return her rent debt of £500 would be cancelled and she would be paid £1,400.