A sham wedding fixer has been jailed for three years at Basildon Crown Court on 14 April for arranging bogus nuptials at a Tilbury church.
Abdallah Magezi, aged 36, was convicted at the end of a 4 day trial of conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law. The Border agency will work to deport the Ugandan national at the end of his sentence.
The couple whose wedding Magezi had set up, Dutch woman Roqsilmar Marti, aged 28, and Nigerian man Gafar Makanjuola, aged 32, had pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge at an earlier hearing. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Magezi had arranged for Makanjuola and Marti to marry at St John’s Church, Dock Road, Tilbury, on 25 August last year.
Makanjuola hoped that his marriage to an EU national would aid his bid to gain long-term residency in the UK with the associated rights to work and claim benefits.
However, officers from the immigration crime team stepped in to disrupt proceedings before the couple had a chance to exchange vows.
Andy Harvey, immigration crime team, UK Border Agency said:
‘Magezi was the Mr Fix-it of the operation. He was the one pulling the strings.
‘When he was arrested we found he had Marti’s ID card in his pocket, which he had held on to as insurance that she would go through with the ceremony.
‘Magezi sought to undermine the UK’s immigration laws for personal profit. His only motivation was money and he treated the marriage ceremony as nothing more than a financial transaction.
It is offenders like Magezi who fuel the demand for sham marriages. By bringing him to justice we have destroyed his criminal business and shown just how seriously we and the courts take this kind of activity.’
When Magezi was stopped by police outside the church he attempted to flee, running up Dock Road and hurdling a fence on to the railway line. Officers gave chase and arrested him in a nearby alleyway.
Magezi insisted that he believed the wedding was genuine. He said that when he was confronted by the officers he thought he was being robbed, which was why he ran and he explained that he had kept Marti’s identification document for her because he had deep pockets.
A marriage certificate alone does not give foreign nationals the right to live and work in the UK. Their relationship has to be genuine. If it’s not, they face prosecution or deportation.
The operation involved seconded police officers working together with warranted UK Border Agency officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
Anyone who has information about suspicious marriages or other immigration crime can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.