A failed asylum seeker, who tried to remain in the UK by using a fake name and taking part in a sham marriage, was rumbled after officers spotted his ‘wedding’ pictures on a camera while investigating another case.
Mohammed Bekaddour is now preparing to be deported to Algeria after pleading guilty to two counts of seeking to remain in this country by deception.
Cardiff Crown Court heard how Bekaddour, 39, arrived in the UK in December 2003 on a tourist visa.
This expired in March 2004 and he should have returned to Algeria but has instead remained in the UK ever since.
Caroline Rees, prosecuting, explained how Bekaddour was then arrested in May 2005 under a fake name after he was caught working illegally.
His claim for asylum, under the fake name, was refused and he absconded and continued to live illegally in the UK.
Ms Rees said he was detained again in June 2007 after being found working illegally in a Cardiff kebab shop.
But she said the Algerian authorities couldn’t confirm his name and he had to adhere to restrictions.
Bekaddour was then arrested in August 2012 for a theft from a shop and was given a conditional discharge for 12 months.
Ms Rees said the Algerian authorities again refused to accept him as an Algerian national.
She told the court that things came to light when it was discovered Bekaddour had taken part in a sham marriage with Lithuanian national Asta Norvaisiena at Cardiff City Hall on August 28 last year.
The court heard this was part of a bid to obtain EU residency which he received in March this year.
Home Office staff were alerted to the marriage after pictures were found on a camera while investigations were been carried out into the sham marriage of Algerian Mohammed Maamir and Lithuanian Laura Stasytiene in Cardiff who were convicted earlier this year.
Bekaddour was arrested in June and admitted his real name in interview.
He said he had not returned to Algeria because he had problems in his home country but maintained that the marriage and relationship with Norvaisiena was genuine.
Norvaisiena however admitted that the marriage was a sham and appeared at Kings Lyn Magistrates Court in July.
She is now waiting to be sentenced at Norwich Crown Court.
Tim Evans, defending, said Bekaddour was concerned by the effect continued custody would have on him.
He said he had not been in custody or served a prison sentence before and that his condition had deteriorated since he was arrested in June.
Mr Evans said Bekaddour had started having panic attacks in July and was restless and finding it difficult to settle.
The court was told the Border Agency took the view Bekaddour should be deported after his sentence and that custody be immediate.
Recorder of Cardiff, Judge Eleri Rees QC, said: “The courts have said that circumventing the immigration system is a serious matter and in this particular case only a custodial sentence is appropriate.”
Bekaddour, who was assisted by an interpreter in court, was sentenced to a total of 18 months in prison.
Judge Rees said she understood plans for his deportation were already in hand.
Nick Jupp, from the Home Office Criminal and Financial Investigations team, said: “This sentence shows that those who attempt to cheat immigration law by abusing the marriage system will be caught and brought to justice.
“Sham marriage abuse poses a real threat to the UK immigration system and it will not be tolerated.
“We work closely with registrars across the country and our dedicated crime teams will continue to make life as tough as possible for those who seek to abuse immigration laws and the institution of marriage.”