UK vicar guilty of 360 sham marriages
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 29, 2010, 21:39
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 same offence.

One co-defendant, Vladymyr Buchak, 33, paid eastern Europeans up to 3,000 pounds each to marry Africans, mainly from Nigeria.

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 Home Office.

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 options."


First Published: Thursday, July 29, 2010, 21:39

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