An African immigrant who pretended to marry her lover’s twin brother so she could unlawfully stay in Britain has been spared jail.
Tailblah Assoua, 34, and her childhood sweetheart Laurent Atte Aka were both living in the UK illegally after fleeing the Ivory Coast.
But Mr Atte Aka adopted the identity of twin brother Bernard – an EU citizen through his marriage to a French woman – so he could marry Assoua in Plymouth, Devon, a court heard.
The sham marriage meant mum-of-two Assoua could apply for a European Economic Area residence card and National Insurance number.
The court heard Assoua’s deception spanned six years, beginning when she arrived in the UK from Ivory Coast on a visitor’s visa in 2002.
She lied about fleeing persecution and a polygamous marriage to an “old man” in her native country when she first asked the Home Office for permission to stay in April 2003.
Assoua, then pregnant with her first child, falsely claimed the old man was the father when the child really belonged to Laurent Atte Aka.
Prosecuting, Brian Fitzherbert, said: “She was interviewed by the authorities and gave that account and her asylum application based on that account was refused.
“She lodged various appeals, all of which were dismissed until she had exhausted all of her appeal rights.”
Assoua tried once more to secure her right to stay in the UK when she wed Laurent Atte Aka, masquerading as Bernard.
When she gave birth to Laurent Atte Aka’s daughter she continued the deception by registering the baby as Bernard’s child, the court heard.
However her story fell apart when she was questioned by immigration officials.
Assoua first insisted she was duped into thinking Laurent was Bernard Atte Aka for the duration of their relationship before claiming the deception was his idea.
Defending, Llewellyn Sellick said: “The story that she told in 2003 was one suggested to her by her husband. She was under extreme pressure from him at that time and was a very frightened young woman.
“She was pregnant and she took those steps forcefully.”
Assoua admitted seeking to remain in the UK by deception at the start of her trial.
Judge Paul Darlow handed her a 40-week prison sentence suspended for two years, describing her various explanations as a “pack of lies.”
He said: “I find it, on the evidence that I have seen, hard to believe that it was only ever your intention to come here as a visitor and then return.
“It was an odd thing to do to come to a country where you didn’t understand the language, culture and apparently distrusted the figures of authority.
“The application subsequently made, and the fact that you had just got here, and that you were fleeing a polygamous marriage, and that your husband was an elderly man who was abusive to you, was a pack of lies.
“It is a serious offence to attempt to mislead the authorities.”
Assoua was also ordered to perform 280 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.