A Ugandan man who was jailed for three years for arranging a sham marriage in Essex faces deportation on his release, it emerged today.
Abdallah Magezi, 36, was convicted on Thursday at Basildon Crown Court of conspiring to facilitate a breach of UK immigration law, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) said.
Magezi was described by the UKBA as the "Mr Fix-it" of an operation to hold bogus nuptials at St John's Church in Dock Road, Tilbury.
He had arranged for Nigerian man Gafar Makanjuola and Roqsilmar Marti from the Netherlands to wed at the church on August 25 last year, in a marriage designed to help Makanjuola gain long-term residency in the UK and the right to work and claim benefits.
Officers from the UKBA waited in the church for the ceremony to begin and "stepped in to disrupt proceedings before the couple had a chance to exchange vows".
Makanjuola, 32, and Marti, 28, pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge at an earlier hearing and will be sentenced at a later date.
Magezi was stopped by police outside the church and attempted to flee, hurdling a fence on to a railway line before being caught and arrested.
He insisted that he believed the wedding was genuine and claimed he ran away when confronted by police because he thought he was being robbed.
He claimed he had kept Marti's ID card for her "because he had deep pockets", the UKBA said.
The agency said it would work to deport the Ugandan national at the end of his sentence.
Andy Harvey, from the UKBA's Immigration Crime Team, said: "Magezi was the Mr Fix-it of the operation. He was the one pulling the strings.
"When he was arrested we found he had Marti's ID card in his pocket, which he had held on to as insurance that she would go through with the ceremony.
"Magezi sought to undermine the UK's immigration laws for personal profit. His only motivation was money and he treated the marriage ceremony as nothing more than a financial transaction."