A YOUNG mum paid £200 for taking part in a sham marriage to help an illegal immigrant stay in Sheffield has had her jail term reduced at the Court of Appeal.
Czech national Kornelie Ferkova was jailed for seven months in January for agreeing to marry a Pakistani man for cash.
But her sentence was cut to three months after judges decided she was only doing her best to raise her children.
The 26-year-old, who lives on Birdwell Road, Grimesthorpe, Sheffield, with her real partner and three children, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain to remain by deception at Sheffield Crown Court in January.
She was sentenced along with several members of a gang who recruited her to take part in the marriage.
Mr Justice Mackay, sitting in London’s Appeal Court with Mr Justice Sweeney, said: “The ‘groom’ in question was a gentleman whose visa was due to expire.”
Ferkova, who speaks no English, was under the “influence” of the conspiracy’s ringleader, the judge added, and was doing her best to raise three children in difficult circumstances.
Mr Justice Mackay said “those involved in sham marriages can expect to go to prison” but ruled that, given Ferkova’s guilty plea and previous good character, the seven-month sentence was too long.
Three members of the gang that recruited Ferkova are in jail for organising sham marriages in Sheffield.
Ringleader Sajid Mehmood, 36, a Pakistani national living in Darnall, who acted as a translator between Ferkova and her fake groom, was jailed for 15 months.
His crew members, Slovakians Milan Benak, 39 and Gizar Demeter, 36, received 12 months each.
Pakistani ‘groom’ Subhani Ahmed, 33, from Luton, also received a 15-month sentence and a warrant was issued for the arrest of fake Slovakian ‘bride’ Barbora Vilckova, 35, from Bradford. The man who married Ferkova has absconded.
When officers arrested the gang at a garage outside Meadowhall shopping centre, they found a price list for a marriage, totalling £10,695 and written in Urdu.
Among the items on the list were “£4,500 girl, £1,900 P60, £600 wedding permission, £200 wedding hall expenses, £2,100 Home Office, £250 wedding photos outside garage”.
The arrests were part of Operation Relinquish, led by UK Border Agency specialists targeting people suspected of organising sham marriages.
Last summer 27 brides, grooms and ‘fixers’ were arrested across Yorkshire.