Sham groom on the run

Court Snatch Leeds Crown Court'Azhar Ahmed
Court Snatch Leeds Crown Court'Azhar Ahmed

A SHAM groom is a wanted man after he went on the run and failed to show up for his sentencing hearing.

Pakistani national Azhar Ahmed, 22, was supposed to be at Bradford Crown Court on Monday to be dealt with for his bogus plan to get hitched to Czech “bride” Milada Gabcova, 23.

The couple, who claimed to have found love after meeting in a city centre take away, were arrested during a sham ceremony at Wakefield Register Office a year ago.

Ahmed’s brother Zafar Iqbal, a respected teacher at a city mosque, was also at the ceremony and found in possession of £600 in cash.

But only Iqbal, 33, of Ashdown Road, Agbrigg, Wakefield, and Gabcova, of Marsland Street, Wakefield, attended for sentence.

All three defendants had been found guilty of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration following a trial at Leeds Crown Court in August.

Iqbal was jailed for 12 months and Gabcova for 15 months. Judge Rachim Singh issued an arrest warrant for Ahmed, also of Ashdown Road.

Bradford Crown Court heard that suspicions about the marriage were raised when register office staff noticed that the “couple” did not speak to each other or show affection and no rings were brought to the registrar’s attention. Recorder Singh told Gabcova: “I have no doubt whatsoever that the £600 found in Mr Iqbal’s possession was to be paid to you for your part in the conspiracy.”

The judge said he had read “glowing” references about Iqbal including one from the chairman of the mosque where he worked, but he said Iqbal had been a willing participant in the conspiracy.

Ahmed entered the United Kingdom in January 2010 on a student visa which would have entitled him to remain until May 2012.

The judge said: “I have no doubt that his intention was to remain in this country as long as he could. He broke that trust by attempting to marry you Miss Gabcova and remain here indefinitely.’’

He told Iqbal that his good character had now gone and said he had been a willing participant in helping his brother to break the law.

He added: “Sadly these offences are all too common. They strike at the heart of the immigration system.”