Dungannon sham marriage swoop
ALARM BELLS, rather than wedding bells, were ringing as the UK Border Agency swooped on a suspected sham marriage as it was about to take place in Dungannon Council Offices.
A 28-year-old Pakistani man and a 42-year-old Polish woman were arrested after officials, acting on intelligence, stepped in moments before the pair about to tie the knot on Wednesday afternoon.
The couple were then separated and questioned about their relationship to determine if it was indeed genuine.
Both were subsequently arrested, but not before the woman fainted due to the stress of being questioned by local police officers who were assisting the Agency.
The pair could face lengthy jail sentences while the perspective groom could face deportation if found guilty of breaking immigration law.
Kieran Dougan, from the UK Border Agency, spoke to our reporter in the build-up to interruption of the wedding.
“What happens sometimes you get a person from outside the EEA (European Economic Area) who is supposed to be marrying someone with the right to be here such as, we believe, today where a man from Pakistan is to marry a woman from Poland.
“After the checks that we made, it looks very suspicious.
“The difficulty is that she could just be a vulnerable individual and she is being strung along. She might fully believe that it is a proper relationship and is getting married.
“All the indicators that we have is that it is suspicious and a typical sham marriage.
“At 1pm we will go in and stop the marriage from going ahead and they will be interviewed.”
Mr Dougan said that in itself the difference in their respective ages meant nothing in itself to the investigation.
“But there are indicators there to us in their background’s that say that they don’t know one another.
“Under interview we can establish what they know about one another.
“He is suspected of being here on a student visa which is due to run out soon hence he would like to gain status in the UK by being married to an EEA national and so could remain here.
“Neither have been here for very long, certainly not in Aughnacloy where they claim they are living.”
Mr Dougan said that there was no evidence of an ‘organiser’ in this instance who would have set up the alleged sham wedding.
A second Polish woman, who is believed to have acted as the bridesmaid, was also arrested. A local man was also arrested. He is accused of acting as a witness after the groom found himself short of a best man.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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