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Judge calls for investigation into Blackburn sham marriages
A JUDGE has called for more information about sham marriages in Blackburn before he will sentence five people for taking part in a series of fake weddings to Vietnamese partners.
Preston Crown Court heard Amanda Nolan, 28, of Windsor Road, Blackburn, Jason Procter, 40, of Princes Street, Blackburn, Kevin Donnelly, 34, of Thwaites Road, Oswaldtwistle, Denny Wallace, 22, of Preston New Road, Blackburn, and Gemma Nelson, 28, of Whalley New Road, Blackburn, were all convicted of committing an act of deception to facilitate non-EU nationals to remain, or enter, the UK.
The prosecution said Nolan, Procter and Donnelly had all participated in sham marriages for cash after being recruited by Trang Thi Thuy Luu, 24, at nail salons in Blackburn, Chorley, and Preston, she owned.
None of the five defendants are said to have been instrumental in organising any of the sham marriages that took place between October 2008 and Oct-ober 2010.
The court heard Wallace and Nelson attended Blackburn Register Office as witnesses.
Before passing sentence, Judge Michael Byrne asked prosecutors to paint him a picture of the issue of sham marriages in Blackburn.
He said: “I want to know how much of a problem there is in Blackburn.
“It may be nothing more than just these individual cases, but it would help to know if these individuals have added to a much bigger problem.”
Prosecutors said the sham marriages were discovered after Nolan married organiser Luu’s partner Tuan Hoang Luu for £4,000.
The wedding had taken place at Blackburn Register Office, followed by a reception at Darwen’s Whitehall Country Club. Nolan was given away to police by an anonymous tipster, the court heard.
Prosecutors said she had enjoyed a trip to Mexico with a different man just days after her marriage.
Both Donnelly and Procter received around £2,000 for their weddings, while Nelson was prom- ised lessons in creating nails, and Wallace was also promised cash.
Police studied the CCTV footage of the wedding reception and noted that Nolan was extremely drunk and treating the event as ‘a joke or farce’, prosec-utors said.
She was arrested and, after subsequent investigations, Donnelly’s marriage to Trang Thi Thuy Luu, and Procter’s marriage to 23-year-old Thi Le Quyen Le were uncovered.
After police identified the link with Luu, she was arrested and released on bail.
She has since ‘vanished without trace’, along with her flat mate Dat Van Vu. Both are wanted for document offences in relation to the marriages.