TWO men who organised dozens of sham marriages in churches in
Lincolnshire have been given six-year prison sentences.
For at least four years, the pair used a network of contacts to
recruit brides from EU states to marry men who were prepared to pay
to help them stay in the UK illegally.
Jose Tavares De Oliveira, a Portuguese national, and Weal
Lewizy, an Egyptian, would book ceremonies at Grimsby Minster, and
at St Aidan's, Cleethorpes. They would hire wedding dresses, and
acted as witnesses.
Both men denied conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration
laws in the UK, but Mr Lewizy failed to attend the trial at
Peterborough Crown Court, which ended last week, and a warrant was
issued for his arrest. Mr De Oliveira's partner, Portuguese-born
Patricia Pimenta, who was one of the bogus brides, was jailed for
The court heard that the inquiry by the UK Border Agency's
Criminal and Financial Investigation Team was continuing. Twelve
brides have been arrested so far.
In the scam, De Oliveira identified potential brides, mainly
Portuguese women, who were willing to marry for money, while Lewizy
found the grooms. Seven of the "brides" gave evidence of fake
weddings between 2007 and 2010.
After the trial, the Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey, the Ven.
Jane Sinclair, said: "We very much regret that a parish church was
exploited in this way. . . We continually review how our clergy are
trained, and further training has been organised in association
with the UK Border Agency, and the police. Any abuse of the
opportunity for church marriages is taken very seriously."