Forest Gate vicar jailed over sham marriage plot
A Forest Gate vicar has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after he admitted conducting almost 250 sham marriages to allow illegal immigrants to stay in the country.
Brian Shipsides, 56, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court today after earlier pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration at All Saints Church.
The offences took place between December 2007 and August 2010, prosecutors said. During that time, the number of ceremonies swelled from 15 in the previous two years to almost 250.
The scam netted Shipsides, of Claremont Road, Forest Gate, almost �30,000 in undeclared income, the court heard.
Amudalat Abolore Ladipo, 31, of Grosvenor Road, Dagenham, who was found to be the organiser of the sham marriages, was convicted of conspiracy to facilitate breaches of immigration laws between December 28 2007 and August 4, 2010.
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She was also convicted of possessing a false Nigerian passport and jailed for three years.
CPS London Special Casework lawyer Andrew Hadik said: “This was a large-scale systematic immigration fraud resulting in hundreds of sham marriages.
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“The motive for the defendants was money and the motive for the mainly Nigerian nationals was to gain the right to stay in this country. Each aware that what they were doing was unlawful.
“We were able to show how the number of marriages had increased, how there was a sudden increase in immigrants wanting to marry and how many of the couples seemingly lived at the same addresses.
“There was a clear cover up in this case – the banns were not read as they should be in order to conceal from the regular congregation the vast increase in ceremonies taking place.”