Couple jailed for sham marriage attempt

31 May 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A couple have been jailed for attempting to obtain a UK spouse visa through fraudulent efforts.

The pair tried to enter into a sham marriage at the register office in Swindon in February of this year, but UK immigration officers stopped the ceremony moments before it was due to start after they received calls from the office's staff that raised suspicions.

It was quickly revealed that the couple barely spoke each other's language and they knew very little about each other.

The pair are Nigerian national Mukaila Abijo, 27, and Portuguese bride Vanessa Medes, 21. Investigations soon discovered that Mendes had flown into the UK the day before the ceremony. She had a return flight to Portugal booked for the same evening. Meanwhile, Abijo, who was residing in Oxford, had paid around £6,000 for the ceremony to go ahead in the hope that he would receive a UK spouse visa and the right to remain in Britain by marrying an EU national.

Tim Burnham, of the immigration enforcement and financial investigation team, commented on the case: “We are working closely with registrars to clamp down on sham weddings and civil partnerships. These convictions are examples of the success that we are having.

“Where there are suspicions that a relationship may not be genuine we will investigate and, if necessary, intervene to stop it happening.”

Both parties pleaded guilty to perjury and conspiracy to breach UK immigration laws during a hearing at Swindon Crown Court. Mendes was jailed for 16 months, while Abijo was sentenced to two years. Both are likely to be deported when their sentences come to an end.