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St Leonards Vicar Ran Massive Marriage Scam


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A Sussex vicar conducted hundreds of sham marriages as part of a "massive and cynical scam", a jury has heard.

The Rev Alex Brown, 61, of Blomfield Road, St Leonards, and two co-defendants all deny conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.

Prosecuting at Lewes Crown Court, David Walbank said they preyed on desperate eastern Europeans and Africans who would do anything to stay in the UK.

Jurors heard Mr Brown presided over 383 marriages in four years at his church.

Mr Brown was suspended from his duties at the Church of St Peter and St Paul after being arrested.

Mr Walbank said: "This case involves, the Crown says, a massive and systematic immigration fraud.

"The heart of the fraud was the payment of cash sums to nationals of member states of the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway."

He said in return for the money they were expected to wed African nationals, mainly Nigerian, in order for them to become permanent residents in the UK.

The court was told Ukrainian national Vladymyr Buchak, 33, of Anglesea Terrace, who had been living illegally in the country, was responsible for "cajoling and persuading" Eastern Europeans into the marriages of convenience.

Solicitor Michael Adelasoye, 50, of St Matthews Drive, who specialised in immigration law, advised the participants, the court heard.

Jurors were told marriage registers at the Church of St Peter and St Paul were analysed, during a joint inquiry by the UK Border Agency and Sussex Police, and a huge increase in marriages was immediately noted, with the vast majority believed to be shams.

Investigators also found a dramatic increase in African and Eastern European names compared with more traditional British-sounding names which appeared before.

It was also noticed it was always Africans who married Eastern Europeans, the court heard.

The jury was told Buchak had already pleaded guilty to a charge of using a false passport.

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A Polish bride accused of taking part in a suspected sham marriage says she is "heartbroken" after police arrested her on her wedding day. The UK Border Agency arrested three others, including her Indian fiance, at Oxford Register Office on Tuesday.

Amrik Singh Dahnju, 30, who gave his address as Marshall Road, Cowley, was charged with two counts of perjury at Oxford Magistrates' Court.

Polish national Kamila Snarska, 19, of Oxford, was given a caution.

A 47-year-old British man was released on bail, and a second Polish woman was released without charge.

Two addresses in the city were also raided in connection with the operation.

The UK Border Agency said it could not comment while legal proceedings were ongoing.

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Now, I wonder if the illegal participants of these sham marriages will be sent back to Nigeria or elsewhere.... will they :unsure: Of course they will not :censor:

I am sorry but I am not being racist here, I am just sick and tired of this country being 'used' by criminals :ffs:

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A woman was paid £2,000 and given a wedding dress for her wedding to an African man as part of an immigration scam run by a vicar, a jury has heard.

Lithuanian Elvyra Ziogeviciene was giving evidence during the trial of the Reverend Alex Brown, 61, of Blomfield Road, St Leonards, East Sussex.

She said she had not intended to live with her new husband, Peter Ojo.

Mr Brown and two co-defendants deny conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration at Lewes Crown Court.

Ms Ziogeviciene said she went to Debenhams in Hastings to buy the dress with her husband-to-be and his associate.

But she said she felt "ashamed" of what was happening and the men chose the dress for her because she "wasn't bothered".

Moments before the wedding, in a car outside the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, Mr Ojo gave her £2,000 in cash, jurors heard. After the wedding she went back to her home with a friend rather than with her new husband, the court was told.

Shortly after the wedding, Mr Ojo and his associate arrived at her home to collect the dress - "probably to take it back," she said.

When asked if there were any marriage celebrations after the ceremony on 15 July 2006, she said through an interpreter: "You're joking. There was no celebration."

Divorcee Ms Ziogeviciene told the court she had not seen Mr Ojo for "quite a while" and neither lived with nor intended to live with him as man and wife.

She said she bought a car with the cash but denied she deliberately ensnared Mr Ojo because she wanted to marry "a rich African man".

'Alias used'

She said a man called Kaido Maesalu had suggested she might marry for cash 18 months after she arrived in the UK and she agreed.

She said: "I thought I would help him as Kaido explained that I will benefit and I will help someone else and he would get a legal job.

"I didn't offer to marry. I got the money and I know it was wrong."

Co-defendant Vladymyr Buchak, 33, of Anglesea Terrace, a Ukrainian national, used the name of Kaido Maesalu as an alias, jurors heard.

A third defendant, Michael Adelasoye, 50, of St Matthews Drive, was a solicitor who specialised in immigration law and advised the participants, the court was told.

It is claimed the wedding was one of 383 carried out at the church from 2005 to 2009, most of which were sham marriages conducted as part of a "massive scam".

The case continues.

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