Men set up sham marriages at Grimsby Minster to cheat immigration law
TWO MEN helped arrange dozens of sham marriages – often using Grimsby Minster – to help foreign nationals cheat immigration law and stay in the UK.
Portuguese Jose Tavares De Oliveira conspired with Egyptian Weal Lewizy, from Grimsby, to arrange the fake weddings, using a network of contacts to recruit brides from EU member states to marry men, who were largely Egyptian.
The pair charged large sums of money to organise the ceremonies, which took place in Grimsby's landmark church as well as at St Aidan's, in Cleethorpes.
Lewizy would hire wedding dresses for the brides, at a cost of about £60 and often for as little as two hours, and together, they would make the necessary bookings, even acting as witnesses.
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They were both convicted of charges of conspiracy to facilitate a breach of the UK's immigration laws after a 10-day trial at Peterborough Crown Court.
De Oliveira, 46, was jailed for six years, as was 35-year-old Lewizy – but he failed to attend the trial and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Today, the Diocese of Lincoln said it is "committed to ensuring that all marriages in our churches are lawful, are based on strong love, and a commitment to a meaningful and long-term relationship".
Sentenced alongside the men were three Portuguese women who had participated as fake brides in ceremonies linked to De Oliveira and Lewizy. All had admitted facilitation charges at earlier hearings.
Patricia Pimenta, 26, who is De Oliveira's partner, was sentenced to eight months, Eduarda Dias Da Silva, 38, was given a suspended eight month sentence and Isabel Teles Mendes, 44, was given a four-month suspended sentenced.
The court was told how De Oliveira would identify potential brides, the majority of whom were Portuguese and willing to marry for money.
Lewizy would find the grooms, mostly Egyptian nationals, who would pay large sums of money to remain in the UK.
They would then arrange for the couples to marry in Grimsby and Cleethorpes.
The jury heard evidence from seven women who had participated in sham weddings, organised by the pair between 2007 and 2010.
Handwriting analysis revealed that De Oliveira would fill in forms for the Portuguese brides when making visa applications to the Home Office.
The men were arrested following an investigation by the UK Border Agency Criminal and Financial Investigation Team.
De Oliveira was arrested at his home in Alexandra Road, Peterborough, along with Pimenta. Lewizy was arrested at his home in Fildes Street, Grimsby.
In all, 12 brides have been arrested so far and put before the courts, but investigations are continuing to track down any further individuals that may have been involved.