Three people were convicted of immigration offences today after a sham wedding in which the groom didn’t even know the bride’s NAME.
Fernando Da Silva, 43, best man Mamadu Djalo, 33, and witness Clifford Asikhia, 34, took part in the elaborate scam to help Nigerian bride Ruth Abumhere, 29, gain a British passport.
But it later emerged that Da Silva did not know key facts about his bride – such as her surname and occupation – and that she was actually in love with Asikhia.
Da Silva, Djalo and Asikhia were all convicted of attempting to facilitate a breach of the UK’s immigration laws after a trial at Peterborough Crown Court.
Their convictions follow that of bride Abumhere, who previously admitted that she hoped marrying Da Silva would give her long term residency in the UK.
She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to attempting to seek leave to remain by deception and possession with intent of a false identity document.
Acting on intelligence, police hid in the vestry at All Saints’ Church in Peterborough, Cambs., on May 17 before pouncing just as the couple were due to make their vows.
During the trial, the jury heard Da Silva claim he fell ”deeply in love” with bride-to-be Abumhere at a party five months before the wedding.
But the Portuguese national admitted to UK Border Agency officers he did not know simple facts about his fiancee including her surname, what she did for a living or if she had any children.
Speaking through an interpreter, Da Silva told the court he had no recollection of meeting the love of his life.
He said: ”I can’t remember much about the party. I don’t know where it was, or who was there.”
Prosecutor Craig McDougall asked: ”You can’t remember the party where you met the love of your life?”
Da Silva replied: ”I was leading a very busy life. I cannot remember.”
Abumhere also initially insisted the marriage was genuine. However, officers discovered the man she was in relationship was Asikhia, not Da Silva.
Sam Bullimore, UK Border Agency Assistant Director, said: ”A marriage certificate is simply not enough to get residency in the UK – the relationship also has to be genuine.
”In this case, the bride was in love with a member of the wedding party, but it was the witness, not the groom.
”If we receive any intelligence that a sham marriage is being planned or has already taken place, we will take action and, ultimately, deport those involved.”
The four are due to be sentenced on 9 November.