Prison sentences for Hatfield sham wedding duo

PUBLISHED: 18:14 06 October 2011

Luisa Ruano

Luisa Ruano

Archant

TWO people have been sentenced to imprisonment today (Thursday) for their part in an attempted sham marriage in Hatfield – but a search is on for a third defendant, who failed to show up to court.

Spanish nationals Luisa Ruano, 27, and Masood Ahmed, 39, were jailed for eight months and 16 months respectively, for conspiring to facilitate a breach in immigration law.

But a third defendant, 22-year-old Tallah Wakeel, from The Drive, Isleworth, Middlesex, did not turn up for the sentencing at St Albans Crown Court.

A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

All three defendants were arrested at Hatfield Register Office in St Albans Road East on May 25 this year, shortly before a ceremony between Wakeel, a former University of Hertfordshire student, and Ruano, was due to take place.

All three had pleaded guilty to the charge at earlier hearings.

At St Albans Crown Court this afternoon, Sally Mealing-McLeod, prosecuting, said the marriage had been arranged by Ahmed, acting on behalf of Wakeel, a Pakistani who was living in the UK on a student visa and did not want to return to his home country once it expired in February.

He hoped his marriage to an EU national would aid his bid to gain long-term residency in the UK.

Ahmed persuaded his sister-in-law Ruano, a mother-of-three, to wed Wakeel, in exchange for 5,000 euros.

But the sham was uncovered after the registrar at Hatfield Register Office grew suspicious of the “couple” and alerted authorities.

Taking into account the pair’s earlier guilty pleas, and the fact that both had been held in custody since May, Judge Andrew Bright sentenced Ahmed to 16 months in prison. He is likely to be released on licence in just over four months.

Ruano was sentenced to eight months, but having served more than four months in custody, will spend the rest of her sentence on licence.


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