Case Law Database

Smuggling of migrants

Offences

• Procuring, providing or possessing a fraudulent travel or identity document in connection with migrant smuggling
• Enabling illegal stay

R v Mintah

Fact Summary

This case involves a Ghanaian national, Ms Lawrencia Mintah, who entered into a sham marriage to a British national to extend her stay in the United Kingdom. She initially entered the country on a student visa which was issued in 2004 and was later extended on two occasions up until 31 March 2007. In December 2007 she applied for a certificate of approval to marry the co-accused, Mr Joseph Brown. The pair married on 12 February 2008 and in May 2008 Ms Mintah was granted further permission to remain in the UK. The case came to light when in 2010 Ms Mintah applied to naturalise and presented false documents to support her application. She also sought to register her daughter as the daughter of Mr Brown, although he was not the real father. Ms Mintah was arrested on 16 December 2010 and she was found living with another man, the real father of her daughter, at that time.

Mr Brown and Ms Mintah were later charged and convicted for their roles in this sham; an appeal against the sentence by Ms Mintah was dismissed.

Commentary and Significant Features

This case is interesting in that the Court of Appeal was willing to raise the possibility that the appellant's pregnancy was a "cynical" pregnancy. It is clear that the Court of Appeal considered that the appellant's offending, including the pregnancy after she had been arrested, to be more culpable and therefore requiring a more severe sentences than other comparable instances of sham marriages like R v Slepcokova [2011] EWCA 3121.

Cross-Cutting Issues

Liability

... for

• completed offence

... as involves

• principal offender(s)

Gender considerations

Details

• Gender considerations

Procedural Information

Legal System:
Common Law
 
Proceeding #1:
  • Stage:
    first trial
  • Decision Date:
    12 August 2011

    Court

    Court Title

    Crown Court

     

    Location

  • City/Town:
    Croydon
  • • Criminal

    Description

    Ms Mintah pleaded guilty to charges of perjury and obtaining leave to remain in the United Kingdom by deception and Mr Brown pleaded guilty to one charge of assisting unlawful immigration into a member state.

     

    Outcome

  • Verdict:
    Guilty
  • Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
     9 Months
     

    Both defendants were sentences to 9 months imprisonment.

    Proceeding #2:
  • Stage:
    appeal
  • Official Case Reference:
    R v Mintah [2011] EWCA Crim 3121 (21 December 2011)
  • Court

    Court Title

    Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

     
    • Criminal

    Description

    Ms Mintah sought to argue that her sentence was manifestly excessive in the circumstances. Counsel for Ms Mintah noted that the effect of a custodial sentence would be very serious for Ms Mintah's family, particularly her three young children.

    The Crown Court's sentence was upheld.

     

    Sentences

    Sentence

    Term of Imprisonment:
     9 Months
     

    The Court noted the remarks of the trial judge at sentencing, specifically that entering into a sham marriage was considered to be a very serious offence. The Court then raised the question of whether or not the birth of Ms Mintah's third child which must have been conceived after her arrest, with reference to R v Slepcokova [2010] EWCA Crim 2715, might have been a "cynical" pregnancy. Reference was also made to the case of R v Illjina [2011] EWCA Crim 975 in which a mother was relieved of a custodial sentence because of familial mitigating factors. However, the Court pointed to the fact that cases like Slepcokova and Illjina were factually unique and exceptional instances. Because Ms Mintah's children were being cared for and there were no other personal mitigating factors, the Court did not consider it necessary to reduce Ms Mintah's sentence. Moreover, the Court went on to say that it would be rare Ms Mintah's offending not to attract a custodial sentence.

    Migrants

    Migrant:
    Gender:
    Female
    Nationality:
    Ghanaian


    No information was available about the outcome of Ms Mintah's application for settlement at the time of writing.

    Defendants / Respondents in the first instance

    Defendant:
    Lawrencia Mintah
    Gender:
    Female
    Nationality:
    Ghanaian
    Age:
    32

    Ms Mintah was of previous good character and is a mother of three children.

    Defendant:
    Joseph Brown
    Gender:
    Male
    Nationality:
    British

    Charges / Claims / Decisions

    Defendant:
    Lawrencia Mintah
    Statute:
    Immigration Act 1971s 24A(1)(a) - deception
    Charge details:

    Ms Mintah was party to a sham marriage with her co-accused, a British national. When applying for settlement she produced false documents in support of her application. When registering the birth of her child, Ms Mintah fraudulently recorded her co-accused as the father.

    Defendant:
    Joseph Brown
    Statute:
    Immigration Act 1971s 25(1) - Assisting unlawful immigration to member State
    Charge details:

    Mr Brown was the British national who took part in the sham marriage with Ms Mintah.

    Court

    Court of Appeal (Criminal Division)

    Sources / Citations

    R v Lawrencia Mintah [2011] EWCA Crim 3121 (21 December 2011)

    This entry was copied from The Migrant Smuggling Case Database, launched by the University of Queensland Migrant Smuggling Working Group in August 2013.