Court hears how 'sham' groom didnt know his Nigerian bride's name

2010-10-15
THE NATION Newspaper

A PORTUGUESE groom involved in an alleged sham wedding did not even know his bride’s name after walking her down the aisle, a court has heard.

Fernando Da Silva, 43, is accused of taking part in an elaborate fake marriage scam to help a Nigerian woman gain a British passport.

Immigration police hid in the vestry at All Saints’ Church, in Peterborough , Cambs, on May 17 and pounced moments before the couple were due to make their vows.

A trial at Peterborough Crown Court heard Da Silva claim he fell "deeply in love" with bride-to-be Ruth Abumhere, 29, at a party five months before the wedding.

But the Portuguese national admitted to UK Border Agency officers he did not know simple facts about his fiancee including her surname, what she did for a living or if she had any children.

Speaking through an interpreter Da Silva told the court on Wednesday he had no recollection of meeting the love of his life.

He said: "I can’t remember much about the party. I don’t know where it was, or who was there."

Prosecutor Craig McDougall asked: "You can’t remember the party where you met the love of your life?"

Da Silva replied: "I was leading a very busy life. I cannot remember."

The factory worker told the court he also never visited his fiancee in London where she lived in the months leading up to his wedding because he was too busy.

He added: "We had a project to live the normal life of a couple and learn the language."

The court previously heard evidence that Da Silva failed to send his bride-to-be a Valentine’s Day or birthday card

Rev Peter Denton, of All Saints’ Church, said: "I was a little suspicious. Then two days before the wedding was set to take place the Border Agency asked if they could attend."

Prosecutors claim Miss Abumhere was in a relationship with Clifford Asikhia but the couple could not marry because Asikhia already had a wife.

It is alleged that she needed a British passport to remain living with Asikhia.

Da Silva, of Peterborough, is standing trial alongside Mamadu Djalo, 33, and Clifford Asikhia, 34, of London.

All three deny charges of conspiracy to arrange a wedding which facilitated the breach of UK immigration law. The trial continues.

 

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