A Nigerian woman, Uzoma Onwuha, 30, who was living in the UK illegally and wanted to have permanent residence has been sentenced to a year imprisonment after she lost £1,000 (about N276 thousand), which she paid to a white man to pose as her groom at a sham wedding.
Prosecutor Jeremy Jenkins said: ‘There were only six guests at the wedding.
‘But they were unable to answer police questions such as where the other guests were from.
‘One guest said he had been invited to the wedding after a random meeting with the bride and groom at a bus stop.’
Home Office were tipped off by register office staff who noticed little interaction between Robert Horvath, 35, from Commercial Road, Newport and Uzoma (pictured) from Chatham Place, London.
Onwuha appeared before Cardiff Crown Court on a charge of obtaining leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception.
Horvath, a Czech Republic native living in the UK since 2000, appeared on a separate charge of assisting unlawful immigration.
The defendants did not interact with each other in the dock.
The court heard how Onwuha initially entered the UK on a student visa in 2010 which was revoked after she abandoned her studies at the University of York.
In what His Honour Judge Philip Richards branded a “money-making racquet” she paid Horvath £1,000 to marry her on May 24 last year – enabling her to change her visa status and remain in the UK.
When police swooped on the couple’s registered marital address in November they found Horvath living with another woman.
Initially he maintained his marriage had ended and that Onwuha had left him after an argument.
But he later admitted the marriage was a sham and that he had entered into the arrangement for money.
Judge Richards said that there was nothing to suggest Horvath, who had been laid off from Avana Bakeries, and Onwuha were “organisers of a racket”.
But he added that cases like these “cause the public a great deal of concern” and the taxpayer “a great deal on money” to fund investigations.
Handing down a 12-month custodial sentence each Judge Richards said: “Horvath got a financial reward from a woman who could scarcely afford that money.
“For him it was a money-making exercise. For her it was a money-losing exercise.”
He ordered both defendants to pay £225 to cover costs.
He told Onwuha, who has been in custody since she pleaded guilty on January 20: “You lost that money but you were deceitful in order to gain advantages for yourself – a future based in the UK.
“Those who deceive in order to benefit in such a way are creating serious crimes.
“There is enough criminal activity going on in the UK,” he said.
He added that such arrangements cause pain to every individual involved.
When Onwuha has served her sentence she will be released into immigration custody and steps will be taken for her to be returned to Nigeria.