FIVE members of a wedding party who were arrested as the bride and groom were about to exchange vows at Sheffield register office admitted the marriage was a sham.
The bride - Slovakian Renata Toracova, aged 37 - and the groom, Pakistani national Sajid Ali, 31, with three interpreters, were arrested by officers from the UK Border Agency after the registrar became suspicious because the couple could not speak English or communicate in each other’s languages.
European migrant Toracova was to be paid £1,900 to marry Ali so he could apply for residency in the UK.
Had the wedding gone ahead, he would have been able to apply for benefits and the right to work in the UK.
The bride, dressed for her big day in leggings and a stripy top and the groom, in a crumpled shirt and tie, were about to exchange £15 rings bought from Argos that morning when they were arrested.
Also arrested were the bride’s interpreter Slovak Ladislav Mizigar, 40; his nephew, Slovak interpreter Michal Gazi, 22, and the groom’s uncle Mahtab Khan, 37.
Toracova, Gazi and Mizigar, of Lloyd Street, Grimesthorpe, Sheffield; Ali, of Calvert Road, Darnall, and Khan, of Horbury Road, Ossett, Wakefield, all admitted conspiring to breach immigration law by participating in a sham marriage.
The court heard the registrar became suspicious and reported them to the Home Office after they went to give notice of their intention to marry at Sheffield Register Office on August 24 last year, each with an interpreter.
The wedding was booked for September 10 and the couple turned up casually dressed.
The group members were arrested shortly after 10.30am and were marched out by the UK Border Agency’s specialist Immigration Crime Team in dramatic scenes captured by a photographer from The Star.
Sarah Wright, prosecuting, said Toracova told police she had been paid for the wedding. She was given £500 for her rent and would receive £1,400 after the ceremony.
When Mahtab Khan was searched he had an envelope with £1,400 in cash. He told police it was for Eid celebrations.
Khan’s barrister Matthew Sharratt said he wasn’t the prime mover and he was not motivated by financial reward.
“The benefit was the gain to his family,” he said.
Khan, of previous good character, had a British wife and two children, including a newborn baby, to support.
Adjourning the case Recorder Paul Reid said: “It was a pretty amateurish affair.
“They turned up for the wedding dressed pretty casually carrying two wedding rings in an Argos carrier bag they had bought that morning.”
All five have been warned they could face jail terms and will be sentenced next month.