This case involves an attempted sham marriage to enable an Indian national to remain in the United Kingdom after his visa expired. He was to marry a Latvian national who lived in Petersborough with her boyfriend and faced financial difficulties after both of them became unemployed. A person working for the agency from which the pair rented their apartment suggested the sham marriage and offered the Latvian woman GBP 3000 for her involvement. The case came to light when the pair registered their intention to marry on 30 November 2010. Both were charged and convicted for conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. The female had her sentenced reduced on appeal.
The smuggled migrant and co-accused in this case, Mr Parvinder Singh, was an Indian national residing in the UK on a legitimate visa. His visa was due to expire in May 2011. The other accused, Ms Lirina Iljina, was a Latvian national residing in the UK with her boyfriend. She became ill and could no longer work and then her boyfriend, too, lost her job. They were facing a difficult financial situation and could no longer pay the rent for their residence, which they rented through an agency. At this point a Latvian-speaking female working for the agency suggested that Ms Iljina enter into a sham marriage with Mr Singh. Ms Iljina initially refused, but later agreed when she was told she would be paid GBP 3000 for her involvement. On 30 November 2010, Ms Iljina and Mr Singh registered their intention to marry in Petersborough on 17 December 2010. The Registrar, however, became suspicious of the circumstances, alerted police, and the pair were subsequently arrested.
Even though Ms Iljina was promised the sum of GBP 3000 to participate in the sham marriage and was to be paid GBP 1000 up front after agreeing to be a part of the sham marriage, it appears that she only ever received GBP 300; 200 of which went straight to her landlord.
In this trial, Ms Iljina and Mr Singh pleaded guilty and were convicted on charges of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration to a Member State.
:Liriam Iljina was sentenced to 14 months imprisonment.
Parvinder Singh was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment.
Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
Ms Iljina appealed against her sentence on the grounds that the sentence of 14 months' imprisonment did not have adequate regard to several mitigating factors: that Ms Iljina was under serious financial pressure, that she cooperated fully with the investigation and that she had been persuaded, if not coerced, into participating in the sham marriage.
The Court noted that Ms Iljina, in the course of her participation in the marriage, had only made GBP 300, of which GBP 200 was taken by her landlord. After being referred to the case of R v Slepcokova  EWCA Crim 2715, the Court noted that only in the most unusual circumstances would an appeal against a custodial sentence in the case of sham marriages be considered. The Court also noted that because Ms Iljina had acted for financial benefit in order to assist Mr Singh, a stranger, to remain in the United Kingdom unlawfully, two of the aggravating factors set out by Lord Bingham CJ in R v Van Binh Le & Stark (19991) 1 Cr App R (S) 422 a custodial sentence could not be avoided. Moreover, because the issue of sham marriages has become more prevalent the Court determined that a custodial sentence was unavoidable for Ms Iljina's offending. However, in consideration of the mitigating factors, specifically Ms Iljina's vulnerability, the Court determined that the sentence of 14 months' imprisonment should be replaced with a sentence of 6 months.
Ms Iljina's sentence of 14 months' imprisonment was replaced by a sentence of 6 months' imprisonment.
Mr Singh was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment for his role in the sham marriage.
Ms Iljina was 22 years of age at the time of the appeal. At the time of the offending, there was evidence that she had been suffering from health issues, specifically headaches related to sinus problems. She had planned to use the money she was to receive from the sham marriage to return to Latvia to have her medical problems treated.
The case report notes that a Latvian-speaking female working for the agency from which Ms Iljina and her boyfriend rented their apartment suggested the sham marriage with Mr Singh. Further information about this female was not available.
Ms Iljina was a participant in the sham marriage, but was not involved in its organisation. Counsel for Ms Iljina submitted that having regard to her financial circumstances and relative vulnerability, Ms Iljina was persuaded and even may have been coerced into participating in the sham marriage.
Mr Singh was an Indian national residing in the UK on a legitimate visa that was due to expire in May 2011. He was the male part in the attempted sham marriage
Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)
R v Iljina  EWCA Crim 975 (23 March 2011)
This entry was copied from The Migrant Smuggling Case Database, launched by the University of Queensland Migrant Smuggling Working Group in August 2013.