Bride and witnesses enter guilty pleas in sham marriage case

A bride and her two witnesses pleaded guilty to taking part in a sham marriage on Monday.

On the morning their trial was due to start at Antrim Crown Court, 26-year-old fake bride Mudiyanselage Achala Wijekkoon and her two witnesses, Zaffar Iqbal (55) and 32-year-old Sarah Ann Dinsmore pleaded guilty to conspiring together to assist illegal immigration on 23 November 2012 by taking part in a sham marriage.

Wijekkoon’s groom 42-year-old Herbert O’Neill, from the Bushmills Road in Coleraine, pleaded guilty to the same charge during an earlier court appearance.

Officers from the border agency swooped on Coleraine Registry Office as O’Neill and Wijekkoon, with an address on the Stranmillis Road in Belfast, were about to say ‘I do’ and arrested the bridal party.

Following the guilty pleas today Iqbal, from the Waterside in Coleraine, Dinsmore from Rosemary Street, Roscrea in Co. Tipperary and fake bride Wijekkoon were all released in continuing bail and will be sentenced next month following presentence probation reports.