7 Sep 2010

Prison sentence for vicar for sham marriages

9:47 pm on 7 September 2010

A Church of England vicar who oversaw hundreds of sham marriages to help migrants settle illegally in Britain has been sentenced to prison for four years.

Reverend Alex Brown, 61, presided over 360 bogus ceremonies over four years at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonards, East Sussex.

East European women were being paid up to £3000 per time to help Nigerian men bypass immigration laws and settle in Britain.

Two co-defendants, Vladimir Buchak, 33, and solicitor and pastor Michael Adelasoye, 50, were also sentenced to prison for four years.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was thought to be the largest sham marriage case yet brought to court.

The trio were found guilty at Lewes Crown Court in July of conspiring to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration laws.

The BBC reports earnings for the church rocketed from £1000 before the marriages occurred, to around £22,000 for the first six months of 2009.

Documents found by investigators had been altered to show that most of the hundreds of people he had married appeared to live in the streets surrounding the parish, with several brides and groom registered in the same property.

Most of those involved had also given false addresses.