London: A Sussex vicar has been found
guilty of conducting hundreds of fake marriages to bypass
immigration law in UK.
Of the 383 weddings the Reverend Alex Brown conducted
over four years at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St
Leonards-on-Seat, East Sussex, between July 2005 and July
2009, 360 of them were shams.
The prosecution claimed he "knew full well that the
vast majority of the marriages were shams."
The jury at Lewes Crown court convicted the
61-year-old of conspiring to facilitate illegal immigration.
Two co-defendants have also been found guilty of the
One co-defendant, Vladymyr Buchak, 33, paid eastern
Europeans up to 3,000 pounds each to marry Africans, mainly
And another - solicitor and pastor Michael Adelasoye,
50, of St Matthews Drive, St Leonards - used his knowledge of
the law to help illegal immigrants with applications to the
The court heard Adelasoye knew many of the
participants through his role as pastor of the Ark of Hope
evangelical church in Hastings.
But when giving evidence, Adelasoye told jurors: "I
have a lot of respect of the sanctity of marriage."
During the trial, jurors heard Brown did not follow
Church of England procedures for reading out marriage banns
for a substantial part of the indictment period.
The jury was told Brown, of Blomfield road, St
Leonards, had pleaded guilty to a charge of solemnising a
marriage without the banns being duly published.
The defendants were caught after the UK Border Agency
investigated the bogus marriages.
Brown was arrested last June and both his vicarage
home and church were searched.
He was suspended from duty.
Investigators found documents he had doctored,
including the church`s electoral roll and a second copy which
hid a dramatic increase in weddings at the church.
Sentencing was adjourned until September 6 for
pre-sentence reports to be carried out on Brown and Adelasoye.
Giving evidence, Brown insisted he only ever married
couples he was sure were getting married for the right reasons
and said he only made exceptions if the bide-to-be was about
to give birth.
He admitted he occassionally forgot to check passports
of foreign nationals and said he became suspicious of one or
two couples, but only because of the vast differences in age
between bride and groom.
Judge Richard Hayward remanded Buchak in custody and
gave Brown and Adelasoye continued bail, but added: "You have
been convicted on very clear evidence of a very serious
offence and the court will be considering all sentencing