Stratford man jailed in sham marriage plot

�Three members of a sham marriage gang have beenlocked up.

Mohammed Raza, 37, of Beauchamp Road, Stratford, set up the transaction to wed Portuguese teenager Liliana Ines to a Bangladeshi groom so he would be able to remain in the UK.

Sm Ashahuzzaman Amiry, 23, paid �1,450 to marry the then 19-year-old at Peckham Register Office but police moved in before they made it ‘to the aisle’.

Ines was in a high street dress that Raza had bought her earlier that day – having changed in the shop.

Also in a vehicle as it pulled up in Peckham Road on February 4 was Portuguese interpreter Paulo Semedo, 31, who claimed he was paid just �40 to translate.

Martin Hooper, prosecuting, told Inner London Crown Court how police moved in following a tip-off “that Mr Amiry was the prospective groom and Ines the prospective bride” in a staged marriage designed to earn the Bangladeshi leave to remain in the UK.

He said police waited outside the register office in a marked vehicle when a Toyota pulled up that was driven by Raza. Inside was Semedo, Ines and her mother.

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Amiry handed an envelope to Raza containing �800 in cash. Amiry, Ines and her mother stayed in the waiting room while Semedo met the registrar and said he was a translator.

Perhaps uneasy at the amount of time it was taking, Semedo left the register office.

Following his arrest, Semedo told police: “I’m going for a coffee, I’ve paid for it.”

Officers then arrested Raza before entering the register office and detaining the others.

Panicking at being caught, Raza tried to blame Semedo, saying: “The black man is in charge, he arranged everything – he arranges brides and grooms for marriages.”

Raza was jailed for 21 months, while Amiry and Semedo were imprisoned for 14 months each for arranging a sham marriage to obtain EU citizenship by fraud.

Pregnant Ines, who was paid �1,000 and claims she got involved because of financial difficulties, was earlier handed eight months’ detention after admitting her role in the scam.

Amiry told officers he came to the UK on a student visa in January and met Raza while working in a takeaway restaurant in Leyton.

After Raza suggested he marry an EU national, he handed over �150, then two installments of �250, before a further �800.

Jim Skelsey, defending Amiry, said his client had moved to the UK from Bangladesh to gain qualifications to help him support his widowed mother.

He fell into debt when he borrowed �12,000 to study at a college in Cambridge, but arrived to find it had shut down and he couldn’t claim his money back.

Amiry’s mother then died while he was in prison in April.

Mr Skelsey said: “He is extremely distressed about his predicament and extremely remorseful.”

Madeline Wolfe, defending Raza, said he had been unable to find a job and needed money to support his wife.

And Peter Rowlands, defending Semedo, said his client had only played a minor role in the scam and was rewarded with just �40.

Judge Tom Nicholson-Pratt said: “All of you played your part in this conspiracy to obtain a sham marriage so Mr Amiry could obtain the rights of a citizen.

“Clearly this offence is so serious that only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”

Raza, Amiry, from Leyton, and Semedo, from Croydon, had denied assisting unlawful entry to the UK