Thursday, October 02, 2008

UK: Sham Bride busted at the altar...

and it couldn't have happened to a nicer gal!

Dressed head to toe in white, the bride certainly looked the part.

The only thing missing when she left the church after exchanging vows with her new husband was - her new husband.

This unlikely scenario gave police enough reason to pounce on the pair. And this was the moment the bride found herself hitched to the wrong side of the law accused of being involved in a sham marriage.

The 21-year-old woman, from Portugal, burst into tears when officers swooped following her wedding at a church in Dulwich, South-East London.

She was led away in handcuffs to be questioned on suspicion of helping an illegal immigrant into the UK. Her new 'husband', a 37-year-old Nigerian, was also arrested, taken into custody and is facing deportation on the grounds that he entered Britain illegally.

The arrests took place last month as part of a joint operation between the Metropolitan Police and the UK Border Agency.

Officers say that before the wedding the couple had been living in Southwark, South-East London but not together. The groom had been living on his own while the bride had been staying with friends.

Following the arrests officers carried out a search on another London address, where several passports were found all in different names but bearing the same photograph. This led to two other men being arrested, both of whom have appeared in court and been jailed for possessing false passports.

The scale of sham marriages in the UK is unclear, although registrars believe there could be at least 10,000 a year.