A BRIDEGROOM who was arrested at the altar of a sham marriage he organised has been jailed.
The bride and her parents, who were all complicit in the scheme, have avoided serving prison terms.
Ijaz Khalid, 28, arranged the fake wedding to Michaela Sivakova, 22, as his student visa was due to expire in July.
The Courier was at Halifax Registry Office, on July 20, when police and UK Border Agency officers crashed the ceremony.
Pakistani-national Khalid, of St Albans Road, Watford, claimed he met Sivakova, of Lightowler Close, Halifax, in a coffee shop, in Bradford, in January.
But Bradford Crown Court heard that, three months into the supposed courtship, Khalid had applied to marry another Czech woman.
It was only after the failure of that he tried set up the second wedding to Sivakova in Halifax.
Officers searched Khalid’s car after his arrest and found notes detailing Sivakova’s family history and the back story of how to the two allegedly met.
The would-be couple were joined in the dock by Sivakova’s parents Ruzena Sivakova, 41, and Michal Sivak, 47, both of Spring Hall Place, Halifax.
Khalid admitted a charge of conspiracy to breach immigration laws and a further charge of making a false statement - which related to the signing of documents to obtain a marriage certificate at Blackburn Registry Office.
Sivakova and her parents pleaded guilty to the second of the charges during a trial earlier this year.
Khalid came to Britain legally in 2007 as a student but his when his latest visa was set to expire he set about organising the sham wedding.
Although there was no confirmation of the amounts of money involved Judge John Potter said that he believed money had been paid to Sivakova’s family.
He said: “It seems, on the basis of the evidence I have seen, that a modest amount of money was to be paid to the family - perhaps some £200.”
In mitigation, Khalid’s defence counsel, Rachim Singh, said Khalid was “foolishly persuaded by others” to take this course of action and that there was an unnamed “fixer” involved who had arranged the sham.
Khalid was sentenced to 18 months in prison, after which he will almost certainly be deported back to Pakistan.
The fake bride, Michaela Sivakova, saw her ten-month sentence suspended for 12 months and was ordered to do 175 hours of unpaid work. She will be subject to a curfew from 7pm to 7am for the next three months.
Her mother, Ruzena, received a six-month suspended sentence and will also carry out 175 hours of unpaid work.
The court heard that Michal Sivakova had significant health issues and was consequently made subject to a curfew from 7pm to 7am for three months.
Steve Lamb, regional director for the UK Border Agency, said: “The UK Border Agency is cracking down on sham marriages across the country. The message is clear – immigration abuse will not be tolerated and we will take the strongest possible action against those involved.
“Immigration crime is not victimless. The gangs involved in this activity often have links to serious organised crime and it places huge pressure on the public purse at a time when the country can least afford it.
“We work closely with registrars across the region, and our dedicated crime teams will continue to make life as tough as possible for those who seek to abuse the immigration system.”
See the video of police and Border Agency officials gatecrashing the fake ceremony online at www.halifaxcourier.co.uk