A pair of sham brides who married illegal immigrants they met through Facebook in Manchester avoided jail today.
Chantelle Burton, 23, and Ashley McGinn, 24, both from Middleborough, arranged fake ceremonies to steal £4,000 from Ghanaian men.
McGinn married Emmanuel Nyarko at Machester register office after a friend told her she could make easy money in doing so.
Prosecuting lawyer Paul Rowland said: “When interviewed, Miss McGinn indicated that she’d spoken via Facebook to a friend who she knew in childhood and was told she could make some money by entering into such an arrangement.”
McGinn met Nyarko, who is wanted by police, at Middlesbrough train station and received £3,000 to marry him in 2010.
“She also was asked by Mr Nyarko if there was anyone else interested in such an agreement,” Mr Rowland continued.
McGinn suggested her housemate at the time Burton to get involved and forwarded £1,000 to her bank account when she married Benjamin Kusi.
Burton was uncomfortable with her actions and confessed to her family what she had done – the pair were later arrested and charged with assisting a breach of immigration law.
Mr Rowland added: “The temptation to make some easy money was described by Miss McGinn as too strong.”
The court heard how McGinn and Burton showed ‘genuine remorse’ and Judge George Moorhouse gave them an eight-month suspended sentence and described their behaviour as ‘stupid’ and ‘extremely serious’
“You are young ladies who have never been in trouble and because you were short of money you succumbed to the temptation of marrying people you hardly knew, thereby assisting these two gentlemen in their unlawful entry to this country,” he said.
“That is an extremely serious offence. Illegal immigrants in this country should not be assisted in the way that you did.”
He said it was ‘stupid, irresponsible behaviour, behaviour which you’re probably now going to regret for the rest of your lives’.
“The message must go out loud and clear that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated.”