A sham marriage couple whose wedding at Northampton Guildhall was stopped by the UK Border Agency have been jailed.
Pakistani man Asif Ali, 31, and Polish woman Helena Puchalska, 20, were arrested by officers from the agency at the St Giles Square venue as they prepared to marry on December 22 last year.
Ali and Puchalska, both of Kettering Road, subsequently pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of the UK’s immigration laws and at Northampton Crown Court today were jailed for two years and 15 months respectively.
A registrar reported the wedding to the UK Border Agency after they became suspicious about the lack of interaction between the couple when they attended a meeting to plan the ceremony.
After their arrests Ali and Puchalska initially maintained their innocence, insisting that they had met in a Northampton nightclub in March last year.
Ali said he had proposed at his Kettering Road home in October over a curry and, in honour of Puchalska’s Polish heritage, vodka.
Their stories began to unravel when they gave contradictory information about their domestic arrangements and displayed little knowledge about each other’s backgrounds and interests.
Inspector Andy Radcliffe, from the UK Border Agency, said:
– Andy Radcliffe, UK Border Agency,
"This was a marriage of convenience – convenient for Puchalska because it would havelined her pockets and convenient for Ali because it was a means to UK residency.
“Immigration crime is not victimless. The gangs involved inthis activity often have links to serious organised crime and it places huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.”