Wales

Couple jailed for 'sham marriage' in Cardiff

A bride and groom who were arrested on their wedding day have been jailed for trying to breach immigration laws after the marriage was exposed as a sham.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Elizabet Balogh, 33, was paid £400 to marry Pakistani national Asif Hussain after his student visa ran out.

They were caught after the registrar who was marrying them realised they did not speak the same language.

Hussain, of Cardiff, was jailed for for 12 months and Balogh for 10 months.

Tip off

The court heard that the bogus bride and her groom were arrested at Cardiff Register Office after Border Agency officials were tipped off it was a sham.

Balogh's cousin Valeria Farkas was also arrested for conspiring to arrange the fake wedding after working as an interpreter for the couple.

Prosecutor Hywel Hughes said: "These three set out and entered into what we say was a sham marriage.

"They entered at the register office in Cardiff in order to register their intent to get married.

"Balogh and Hussain were due to marry and Farkas was to play the role of interpreter for Balogh who didn't speak English.

"It was apparent to the registrar that there was very little verbal communication between the bride and groom.

"It struck the registrar as very odd that they wanted to get married as quickly as possible and the wedding was booked for three weeks later."

Wedding raid

The court was told that the registrar tipped of police over her concerns Balogh and Hussain were not a genuine couple.

Border Agency officials and police officers raided the wedding while it was under way.

Balogh initially told police she did want to marry Hussain, and said: "It was love at first sight."

But all three later admitted conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law.

The court heard Hussain had paid £800 to a third party to arrange the wedding and give £400 to Balough after his student visa ran out.

Suspicious

Judge Neil Bidder QC jailed Hussain of Cardiff for 12 months, Balogh for 10 months and Farkas for six months.

He said: "The registrar became suspicious that this was a fraud and a scam - although it didn't require her to be very perceptive as Balogh and Hussain were unable to communicate with each other.

"They didn't share a common language and Farkas was needed to interpret."

Chris Lovejoy, from the UK Border Agency's immigration crime team, said:"Asif Hussain saw this sham marriage as a shortcut to a life in the UK. Instead, he has earned himself a significant spell behind bars.

"This case shows how people are prepared to enter into a marriage with someone they barely know to help them cheat the immigration system in exchange for cash.

"The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages and those who seek to cheat immigration laws face jail."

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