Tees

Middlesbrough Facebook-meet sham brides spared jail

Two women who made more than £4,000 by marrying illegal immigrants they met through Facebook have been spared jail terms.

Chantelle Burton, 23, and Ashley McGinn, 24, from Middlesbrough, married two men from Ghana.

Burton later confessed to her family, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Judge George Moorhouse gave them an eight-month jail sentence suspended for a year and told them they had been "stupid" and "irresponsible".

He said: "Because you were short of money you succumbed to the temptation of marrying people you hardly knew, thereby assisting these two gentlemen in their unlawful entry to this country," he said.

The judge told the pair they had displayed "stupid, irresponsible behaviour, behaviour which you're probably now going to regret for the rest of your lives".

Husbands fled

McGinn was told by a friend on Facebook she could make money by entering into an "arrangement" with illegal immigrant Emmanuel Nyarko, prosecutor Paul Rowland said.

The court heard she met Mr Nyarko at Middlesbrough station and accepted £3,000 to marry him, telling authorities they lived together in Manchester, the court heard.

Mr Nyarko asked her if there was anyone else "interested in such an agreement" and she suggested her friend Burton, a mother of one with whom she was living at the time.

Burton was paid more than £1,000 when she married Benjamin Kusi, who has since absconded.

Mr Nyarko, whose visa had expired, has also fled and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.

"The temptation to make some easy money was described by Miss McGinn as too strong," Mr Rowland told the court.

Both women pleaded guilty to assisting a breach of immigration law.

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