A man a is currently on the run from the UK Border Agency after being caught in a sham marriage to an EU national so that he could continue to live in England.
Moments before he was due to be sentenced, Harinder Singh fled from Newcastle Crown Court after his lawyer told him he would most likely face imprisonment.
Mr Singh, from India, paid Svetlana Kozlovskaja, from Lithuania, £5,000 to marry him so that he could avoid deportation.
The pair were almost total strangers and barely spoke the same language when they were married in a register office in Newcastle in the summer of 2010.
They had met in a fish and chip shop previously and shortly after the first meeting, Mr Singh made his offer.
Geoff Mason, prosecuting, said: "He was facing deportation, and he offered her £5,000 to marry her, which would allow him to stay in the country as she is from the EU."
After the sham marriage, Mr Singh moved into a house with Ms Kozlovskaja and her long-term boyfriend, in Wallsend.
They were discovered by the UKBA's Immigration Crime Team, which had just launched a crackdown on foreign nationals carrying out sham marriages.
The region-wide operation made 14 arrests in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland after a month-long investigation.
Mr Singh and Ms Kovlovskaja both pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful entry into the UK, for which the maximum sentence is 12 months' imprisonment.
Judge Cartilage, presiding, said that sentencing would be delayed until both defendants could attend court.
He said: "I imagine he will be caught by the Border Agency in the coming days, and I can sentence you both at the same time, although Mr Singh will also be sentenced for refusing to answer bail as he absconded today."
The couple's marriage is being annulled.
Read more on the story (Chronicle News)
Read about marrying for a visa (FindLaw)
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