Sham couple face jail time

Court Snatch Leeds Crown Court, Azhar Ahmed (L) and Milada Gabcova (R)
Court Snatch Leeds Crown Court, Azhar Ahmed (L) and Milada Gabcova (R)

A SHAM couple who claimed to have found love after meeting in a takeaway are now facing jail for an immigration conspiracy.

Czech “bride” Milada Gabcova and her husband-to-be Azhar Ahmed, from Pakistan, were arrested by police and border agency officials during a wedding ceremony at Wakefield Register Office last September.

The prosecution said it was a sham marriage designed to prolong Ahmed’s stay in the UK by getting hitched to an EU national. Ahmed, 22, of Ashdown Road, Agbrigg, only had a temporary student visa.

The couple claimed love blossomed after Gabcova, 23, of Marsland Street, Wakefield, walked into Freddy’s takeaway in Wakefield where Ahmed worked. They decided to get married two to three months later after a series of dates.

But a Leeds Crown Court jury took less than an hour to unanimously convict them of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Zafar Iqbal, the groom’s brother, was also found guilty of the same charge. He is a religious teacher at a city mosque who teaches children aged five to 15. The court heard Iqbal, 32, also of Ashdown Road, has great respect in the community and is regarded as a leader.

But the six-day trial heard how he had helped make arrangements for the bogus marriage.

Jurors also heard how Gabcova seemed disinterested at the register office and no rings were brought to the registrar’s attention. They also didn’t seem too upset when a previous ceremony had to be postponed because of a problem with interpreters.

After the guilty verdicts were handed down Simon Perkins, for Gabcova, said his client was a previous good character and asked for the case to be adjourned for a pre-sentence report.

The court was told a notice of deportation had been served on Ahmed.

The judge granted all three conditional bail pending sentencing at Bradford Crown next month. They were warned them all options, including custody, were open.