Sheffield sham marriage couple jailed

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A couple who arranged a sham marriage to fool the immigration authorities have been jailed for 18 months each.

Sheffield taxi driver Gul Khatab, who is originally from Pakistan, paid Tracy Coulstock £7,000 to marry him so he could begin the process of gaining leave to remain in the country.

Coulstock, aged 48, agreed and the bogus wedding ceremony was held in her home town of Hatfield, Hertfordshire.

After the wedding, Khatab continued living and working 150 miles away in Sheffield.

A jury at Sheffield Crown Court took almost four hours to find the pair guilty via majority verdict.

Judge Mark Gargan said: “Tracy Coulstock genuinely met Khatab through his cousin, then they realised that she, as a woman in her mid-40s who had never married, and he, as a man who wanted to stay here, saw an opportunity.

“For her, it was an opportunity for easy money in circumstances where, although she had a reasonable income, it wasn’t a life of luxury, and where for him, a relatively small payment to her would procure an advantage for him that he may not otherwise have been able to obtain.”

The court heard yesterday the pair had previously been linked with some court proceedings last year, when four people were jailed for their roles in a sham marriage scam, where weddings were organised for men desperate to stay in the country.

However, it was decided Khatab and Coulstock were a separate case and had nothing to do with the wider conspiracy.

Abdul Iqbal, for Khatab, told the court: “This was a man seeking to remain in the UK – but for the purpose of bettering himself. Someone who wanted to be here so that he could work.

“A good citizen, working hard, paying tax –not a burden on society.”

The trial had heard Khatab –who was highly educated – had left behind a life of luxury in Pakistan to come to the UK.

His property dealer father owned a 14-bedroom house which had a maid and three chauffeurs.

Yunus Valli, for Coulstock, said: “She has two children and three grandchildren. This is a lady who most likely will not be offending ever again.

“She is in full time employment and had been for most of her life. It was an offence that has been totally out of character.”

Khatab, aged 36, of Scott Road, Pitsmoor, is likely to be sent back to Pakistan after serving his sentence.