Winchester: Three Convicted Over Sham Marriage

A bridegroom at two "fixers" have all found been found guilty today of being involved in a sham marriage.

The bridegroom and fixers, all from London, were found guilty for their part in a sham marriage involving a bigamist bride.

Olivia Godefroy and Devine Abanda were about to begin their wedding ceremony at Winchester Register Office, Hampshire, in February last year when they were arrested by a specialist team of Home Office investigators.

Ivorian "fixers" Armand Djedje and Olivier Attie were also arrested.

Abanda, 27, of Hillards Road, Uxbridge; Djedje, 30, of Evelyn Street, Deptford; and Attie, 31, of Guibal Road, Lee, south-east London; were all convicted at Winchester Crown Court of one count of conspiracy to facilitate obtaining leave to remain in the UK by deception.

Godefroy, 22, of Grove Street, Deptford, admitted one count of conspiracy to facilitate obtaining leave to remain in the UK. She also admitted one count of bigamy.

The four defendants are to be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

A Home Office spokesman said £2,500 was found on Djedje and Attie after they arrived at the wedding in the same vehicle as the couple but did not enter the ceremony.

He said: "When questioned, French national Godefroy admitted she had entered into a bogus marriage once before.

"She told officers she had met Djedje and Attie at King's Cross and the group travelled to Winchester together.

"She was to be paid £2,000 to enter into the marriage.

"Winchester Crown Court also heard how, moments before the ceremony, Cameroonian national Abanda had stopped at a cashpoint to pay the 'fixers'.'"

He added that the cash had already been seized using Proceeds of Crime Act powers.

Martin Huxley, assistant director of the Home Office's criminal and financial investigations team, said: "This gang had a complete disregard for the institution of marriage and made a brazen attempt to abuse the UK's immigration controls.

"Sham marriage abuse will not be tolerated, and our dedicated, specialist teams will continue to pursue rigorously those trying to cheat the system.

"Regardless of whether you are a fixer or a participant, our specialist teams will catch up with you and you will be put before the courts."