On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Lucy Horobin 6:30am - 10am
25 September 2012, 07:51 | Updated: 25 September 2012, 07:57
The manager of a Bedfordshire restaurant who arranged a series of sham marriages to help his relatives stay in the UK has started a four-year jail sentence.
Father of five Gyash Uddin (right), a Bangladeshi born British citizen, was behind an organised criminal conspiracy to get male members of his family married off to Polish women so they could remain in the UK.
At the centre of the operation was a restaurant he ran in Leighton Buzzard and where some of the women worked as waitresses.
Uddin, 39, appeared in the dock of Luton Crown Court on Monday 24 September 2012, along with some of the 'brides and grooms' he used in his scams to try and hoodwink the authorities.
Jailing Uddin, Judge David Farrell QC told him: "You Gyash Uddin were at the centre of this scam. You were the Mr Fix It."
At one register office sham marriage he had organised, where the reception was held at his Indian restaurant, some guests had been surprised that 30 minutes after the meal, Polish bride Dorota Wysocka and Bangladeshi groom Mohammed Razul Miah - who was Uddin's brother-in-law - were back at work in the restaurant's kitchen.
In other cases, registrars receiving applications by couples to marry had been struck by the fact that neither the would-be Polish bride or her proposed Bangladeshi groom could talk to each other because of language difficulties.
To reinforce their suspicions, there was no interaction between the couples, the court was told.
In some cases the couples had been provided by Uddin with 'crib sheets' setting out answers they should give to certain questions.
Phoney documentation was also drawn up by Uddin, who lives in Luton, such as bogus tenancy agreements which purported to show couples were living together as part of long term loving relationships.
Love was never part of the deal however.
The women were paid handsomely for their co-operation, which meant that once the men were married, they could then remain in the UK.
The court heard it was an Indian restaurant called Moja in the market town of Leighton Buzzard that was at the centre of a sham marriage scam.
Will Noble, prosecuting, said: "This case concerns a series of sham marriages between 2005 and 2011, the purpose of which was to secure residency and British citizenship and the head of the scam was Uddin."
He said the men involved in the sham marriages were members of Uddin's family or 'associates'.
Mr Noble said Uddin used his restaurant and other properties used by him "as a front" to legitimise documents to facilitate the scam.
Uddin of Ivy Road, Luton, appeared for sentence having earlier been found guilty of eight offences of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration laws by non EU citizens.
His brother-in-law Mohammed Razul Miah, 35, an illegal immigrant also of Ivy Road, Luton, appeared for sentence having earlier been found guilty of two similar charges.
Illegal immigrant Mohammed Dolon Miah, 29, of Spencer Road, Luton, was earlier convicted of two charges of conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration laws by non EU citizens. He is a nephew of Uddin.
With them in the dock and pleading guilty to one offence of the same charge were Tera Mia, 58, from Hitchin Road, Luton, Polish born Mariusz Rohde, 28, of Studley Road in Luton, his partner Dorota Wysocka, 46, of the same address, Katarzyna Potrykus, 40, of Cowper Street, Luton, Aneta Szczepanik, 36, of Dorset Court, Luton and Kamillia Drozdowska, 28, of Bute Street, Luton.
At the sham marriage of Razul Miah and Wysocka, the court heard there were none of their friends and relatives present, but there were two white British guests who were regulars at the restaurant.
Both had been surprised to receive wedding invitations from Mr Uddin.
Brian Marshall was to tell investigators later he had only attended with his family so as not to offend Mr Uddin.
"He hardly knew the bride or groom other than the fact that as a regular customer of Moja, he saw them working in the kitchens," said the prosecutor.
The other white customer at the reception that day with his wife and daughter was Kelvin Dew.
Mr Noble went on "Mr Dew recalls that most of the other guests were restaurant staff. The reception was held at Moja but within 30 minutes of the meal, the bride and groom were back at work in the restaurant."
Mr Noble said the invites to the two regular customers had gone some way to allaying the suspicions of the registrar and was a "contrived attempt to make the wedding appear genuine."
Mr Noble told the jury during the trial "This case concerns a series of sham marriages or proposed sham marriages between Polish or British nationals and Bangladeshi nationals who have either entered the UK illegally or have entered on visas that have expired or are close to expiring. At the centre of these shams was the first defendant, Gyash Uddin.
"In addition to his family members, Uddin also assisted other Bangladeshi men who were in the UK unlawfully. Uddin conspired with them and others to arrange sham marriages to Polish girls also working for him. The intention behind these shams was to secure a right to reside in this country, not be deported and, ultimately, to obtain British citizenship with all its financial benefits," he said.
Mr Noble explained that at one time it had been the law that an illegal immigrant, or a foreign national who had remained in the UK beyond the time limit prescribed in their visa, could not marry a British citizen or a European Economic area national living in the UK.
"However, the law prohibiting illegal immigrants or over-stayers marrying British or EEA nationals was considered at odds with an individual's human rights," he said.
He went on "However, this right to marry only relates to genuine relationships. The government is still permitted to prevent a proposed marriage or deny an application for residency in the UK based on a marriage, if it believes the marriage or proposed marriage is in fact a sham."
The court heard how in October 2009 Mohammed Razul Miah made an application to the Home Office as a Bangladeshi national with no rights to be in the UK for permission to marry Dorota Wysocka, 45.
The pair submitted written answers to a series of questions posed by the Home Office in which they said that they had met in March 2009, that they had been living together since 29th June 2009 and that they intended to remain in the UK after their marriage.
The prosecutor said they provided a phoney tenancy agreement relating to a flat above Mr Uddin's restaurant at 1 Mill Road, Leighton Buzzard.
Based on the information provided, permission to marry was granted by the Home Office.
Mr Noble said the couple didn't live together, were not in a relationship and she was already with a partner living in Luton.
On 13 December 2010, Dorota Wysocka and Mohammed Razul Miah attended Milton Keynes Registry Office and registered their "Notice of Marriage".
Mr Noble said "The registrars noted that Mohammed Razul Miah and Dorota Wysocka were unable to communicate with one another due to a clear and obvious language barrier - neither spoke English. He couldn't speak Polish and she couldn't speak Bengali. The registrars were, as you can well imagine, understandably suspicious."
In attendance was Gyash Uddin who purported to act as a Bangali interpreter.
"As well as an inability to communicate with one another, the registrar also noted that there was no interaction whatsoever between Wysocka and Miah during the process," said the prosecutor, who went on "Due to concerns about the legitimacy of this proposed wedding, the registrars subsequently submitted a 'Suspicious Marriage Report' to the authorities asking them to investigate."
In February 2010 Miah and Wysocka filled out a "checklist of requirements" for the Registry Office in advance of the wedding indicating that the bride would be unaccompanied, there would be no bridesmaids, no music, no readings or poetry, no camcorders or photographers.
The jury heard a week before the wedding two Asian men and two Polish women went into a wedding dress shop in Luton and asked for a "cheap" dress.
They bought one for £200 and didn't ask for any alterations.
Then on February 19 2011, the couple attended the registry office in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire and undertook a civil marriage ceremony and were formerly married.
Following the wedding, a handwritten crib sheet about the bride was found in the pocket of a pair of jeans in an upstairs bedroom at Mr Uddin's home.
Said Mr Noble "It is often the case that sham partners have to rehearse personal details about their intended spouse to be able to answer Registrar's questions - this goes to the extent of having to write these details down. Put another way, in a genuine relationship, why would you need to write these sorts of details down?"
Mr Uddin is alleged to have helped the third defendant, his nephew Mohammed Dolon Miah in his attempt to go through a sham marriage to another Polish woman called Kamila Drozdowska who worked at his restaurant.
The jury heard how in March of last year staff at Luton Register Office where the couple had gone to apply to get married noted that while she could speak good English, he couldn't and required an interpreter who was Mr Uddin.
At one point Mohammed Dolon dropped a piece of paper which had the words "Who?" What?" "When?" "Where?" and "Why?" written on it.
Once more it was suspected that a sham marriage was being arranged and the authorities were alerted.
In fact the wedding planned for last May didn't go ahead after Drozdowska, 28, pulled out. But in a wardrobe at her flat in Bute Street, Luton the authorities discovered the same wedding wedding dress worn by Wysocka at her "wedding" the year before.
Razul Miah was jailed for two and a half years, Wysocka was jailed for 16 months, her partner Mariusz Rohde was jailed for 13 months, Dolon Miah was jailed for two and a half years, Kamila Drozdowska was jailed for 13 months, Aneta Szczepanic and Katarzyna Potrykus both got 12 months and Tera Miah was jailed for 8 months.