The sham groom at the centre of the latest false marriage controversy, told an Accrington vicar he lived at an address on Blackburn Road in the town – but it was a pizza takeaway, a court heard.
Saheed Bello, 35, wed Czech national Martina Demeterova, 27, with her mother Kveta Demeterova as witness, at St Andrew’s Church in February 2009.
In reality, Bello was living in Manchester, with his partner and not Martina Demeterova, who resided with her boyfriend and young child in Bradford. Bello applied to stay in the UK just weeks after the ceremony, whilst his ‘bride’ went on to blow the cash on clothes for herself.
Bello, of Abbey Hey Lane, admitted two counts of making a false statement with reference to marriage and seeking or obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception. He was jailed for 21 months.
Martina Demeterova and her mother, 47, both of Fairhaven Green, Bradford, pleaded guilty to assisting unlawful immigration.
Martina Demeterova, who was paid £2,000 to take part in the sham marriage, was sent to prison for 15 months. Her mother was given 52 weeks in custody, suspended for a year, with 12 months supervision.
Jennifer Blewitt, prosecuting, told Burnley Crown Court sometime before February 3, 2009, Bello attended the church and spoke to a vicar about arranging a marriage. He was told he would have to sign an affidavit and various conditions would have to be satisfied- fees and the identification which had to be produced.
He partially completed a marriage application form, requesting the date of the wedding to be February 12 and stating he lived on Blackburn Road in Accrington.
On February 3, he met the vicar responsible for preparing sworn affidavits for marriage. He produced a Nigerian passport, a signed affidavit saying he lived on Blackburn Road, a passport in the name of Martina Demeterova and an eon electricity bill in his name, dated January 2009.
Miss Blewitt said a marriage licence was issued and the wedding took place on February 12.
The marriage register was signed by the ‘bride and groom’ and her mother was a witness.
On April 3, Bello submitted a residence card application form, supported by Martina Demeterova, claiming she was his legitimate wife.
The prosecutor said the offences came to light when police started investigations into sham marriages in Lancashire.
It was revealed the defendants did not live at the Blackburn Road address, which was a pizza takeaway and had never been lived in. Eon had not supplied power there since 2002.
Miss Blewitt said the defendants were later arrested.
Martina Demeterova was cautioned and said: "He paid me £2,000 to marry him." Bello made no comment to questions. Deportation notices had been served on all three defendants.
Martina Demeterova told officers she had met Bello two months before in a Bradford nightclub and he had offered her the cash to get married.
She said he had told her he would be killed if he was forced to return to his own country.
She said she spent the money on clothes. The defendant added she had been in some photos taken a few weeks after the wedding so Bello could send them to the Home Office to show they lived together.
Kveta Demeterova told police she knew the marriage was a sham, had tried to persuade her daughter not to take part, but had attended and signed the register to support her.