A WORTHING ‘couple’ whose sham marriage was exposed by a UK Border Agency investigation have today (Friday, October 21) been jailed for ten months each.
Kristyna Salaseviciute, a 28-year-old Lithuanian, and Vitalii Zhytnyk, a 24-year-old Ukrainian, were arrested by UK Border Agency officers following the marriage at Worthing Register Office on May 8, 2010.
Woolwich Crown Court heard that Salaseviciute, of Brougham Road, was offered £3,000 to take part in the scam, half on getting married and the rest when Vitalii, of South Farm Road, obtained a visa to stay in the UK.
Following the bride and bridegroom’s arrest, officers from the UK Border Agency’s South East Immigration Crime Team identified the ‘marriage fixer’ – the groom’s 29-year-old Lithuanian sister Maryna Zhytnyk Kavalyauske, also of South Farm Road.
Kavalyauske claimed that she had arranged the marriage so that her brother could remain in the UK to care for her two small children.
All three were charged with conspiracy to facilitate a breach of immigration law. Salaseviciute and Zhytnyk both admitted the charges at Chichester Crown Court on August 25, 2011, but Kavalyauske refused to plead guilty to this charge. She later admitted an offence of assisting unlawful entry into an EU member state by a non EU citizen.
Salaseviciute and Zhytnyk were both sentenced to ten months in prison. Kavalyauske was given a six month suspended sentence, and 110 hours of community service.
UK Border Agency said a sham marriage typically occurs when a non-European national marries someone from the European Economic Area, or the UK, as a means of attempting to gain long-term residency and the right to work and claim benefits in this country.
Jayne Hayes, who led the UK Border Agency’s south east immigration crime team investigation, said: “This case shows the desperate nature of immigration crime with large sums of money changing hands and people being prepared to enter into a full marriage with someone they barely know simply to cheat the immigration system.
“The UK Border Agency will not tolerate immigration abuse, and we are cracking down on sham marriages all over the country. Those who seek to cheat immigration laws face being put behind bars.”
The South East Immigration Crime Team is a specialist unit of seconded police officers from forces across the region working alongside warranted UK Border Agency officers to investigate organised immigration crime.
Anyone who has information about suspicious marriages or other forms of immigration abuse should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 where anonymity can be assured or visit http://www.crimestoppers-uk.org/.