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NRI jailed in bogus wedding case

india Updated: Feb 08, 2007 12:31 IST

Paul Singh, an NRI from Punjab, has been jailed and a clergyman who joined hands with him in conducting sham marriages to hoodwink Britain's immigration department has been given a two-year suspended sentence.

Pastor Adeolu Magbagbeola, dubbed as 'parsimonious parson' by a judge, made a fortune officiating at fake weddings so immigrants could avoid deportation.

The operation was masterminded by Paul Singh who had organised at least 80 bogus weddings.

42-year-old Singh charged 8,000 pounds for a "package" with fake documents to send to the Home Office. He often used his girl-friend and cousin as stand-in brides.

60-year-old Pastor Magbagbeola even admitted marrying off the same "bride" twice in a day at ceremonies so close together she only had time for a cup of tea between vows.

Magbagbeola's three-year con ended when police raided a ceremony as he pronounced a counterfeit couple man and wife, the Snaresbrook Crown Court was told. Officers grabbed the groom and the cleric but the fake bride fled in her wedding gown.

Magbagbeola, of Enfield, who ran the Celestial Church of Christ in Islington, North London, for 35 years, admitted conspiracy to defraud.

Following an appeal by Magbagbeola that he needed dialysis three times a day and could die in five years, the judge gave him a two-year suspended sentence and told him to pay 15,000 pounds costs.