Nottingham

Phillips Onikoyi jailed for Nottingham sham marriages

A gang used "day return" flights from the Netherlands to carry out up to 20 sham marriages, a court has heard.

The Dutch nationals would arrive in Nottingham, take part in ceremonies and fly home within 24 hours.

Ring leader Nigerian-born Phillips Onikoyi, 34, was jailed for five years after admitting conspiracy to breach immigration law.

His former partner Olajumoke Ikoyi, 27, was convicted of the same charge at Leicester Crown Court.

Five Dutch nationals were all jailed for 18 months for their parts in the scam. Three Nigerians were also sentenced to 12 months in prison.

Onikoyi, formerly of Stanley Road, Nottingham, was jailed at Leicester Crown Court on 19 September 2011. However, his sentencing could only be reported after the conclusion of Ikoyi's trial on Wednesday.

'Aggravating feature'

In sentencing, judge Robert Brown told Onikoyi: "A message needs to go out that behaviour like this will not be tolerated.

"Your case has the aggravating feature that you systematically made trips to Holland to bring people back for sham marriages."

Nigerian nationals Esther Idowu, 32, Isaac Onikoyi, 22, and Olushola Oshingbade, 41, admitted at the same hearing to conspiring to breach immigration law.

Dutch nationals Wensley Quirindongo, 38, Shamazaira Castillo, 27, Ediselle Barrimond, 26, Charlton MaCaay, 30, and Ulrich Toppenberg, 41, admitted the same charge.

The court heard the scam allowed Nigerians to stay in the UK because they married a European with a right of residence, who were all Dutch nationals, many originally came from the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean.

Andy Ratcliffe, from the UK Border Agency, said: "They were flying over for 24 hours, basically overnight, and then going back to Holland.

"After the wedding they would never come back to the UK."

Twenty suspected marriages took place at St Aiden's Church in Basford, Nottingham.

The UK Border Agency said addresses were raided in Birmingham, Nottingham, London, Devon and Kent in March 2011 as part of the investigation, which was the largest carried out by its immigration team in the East Midlands.

Dutch police also raided addresses in Rotterdam and Tilburg as part of the operation.

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