Jail for woman who fixed sham weddings
2:10pm Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
A WOMAN who masterminded a sham wedding ring by flying brides in from Portugal to marry immigrants living in Bolton has been jailed for three years and nine months.
Nine bridegrooms who paid Maria Loureiro thousands of pounds to supply brides have also been jailed for their part in the operation, which judge David Hernandez said “undermined marriage”.
Popular Bolton community member and businessman Iilas Neki, aged 46, of Argo Street, Bolton, was also jailed for two years and eight months for working alongside Loureiro, acting as a conduit between her and the Indian men, Manchester Crown Court heard yesterday.
The court was told Portuguese national Loureiro, aged 54, of Danes Road, London, arranged for nine Portuguese women to be flown from Lisbon to England so they could marry nine Indian men, living in Bolton, who wanted to stay in the country.
The court heard there is evidence to show Loureiro, a mother of two teenagers, was paid £27,000 in total for arranging the marriages, which happened between February 2011 and July 2012.
The bridegrooms had all entered the UK legally, but their visas had either expired or were due to expire.
Many of the men had been working to support families in India, and some of the brides claimed to work at Neki’s former business, Swantex, in Higher Swan Lane, Daubhill.
All the ceremonies took place in register offices — six in Blackburn, two in Cheshire and one in Preston.
Judge Hernandez said: “These offences strike at the heart of the immigration system and undermine the status of marriage.”
Bridegrooms Inayat Tailor, aged 26, of no fixed address, a graduate who worked as an IT technician in Bolton; Mehul Patel, aged 31, of St Helens Road, Daubhill; Yusunbbhai Duka, aged 30, of Carnarvon Road, Blackburn; Sajuaddin Mansuri, aged 27, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill; Amjad Patel, aged 23, of Hopefield Street, Daubhill; and Sarfran Mirja, aged 23, of Mancroft Avenue, Daubhill, were all jailed for 16 months.
Bhavesh Baodara, aged 22, of Derby Street, Daubhill, was jailed for 18 months, while Faisal Chand, aged 25, also of Derby Street, who had a year-long relationship with his bride, was jailed for 15 months.
His bride, Andreia Nogueira, the only one who stayed in the country after the weddings, will be sentenced on April 26.
Mitesh Panjari, aged 25, of Olive Street, Daubhill, who changed his mind and did not go through with the wedding, was jailed for 13 months and two weeks.
All defendants admitted conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.