Appeal court bid fails for sham marriage pastor

Michael Adelasoye outside Lewes Crown Court
Michael Adelasoye outside Lewes Crown Court

AN EVANGELICAL pastor who helped to set up hundreds of sham marriages for illegal immigrants has failed in an appeal against his conviction.

Michael Adelasoye, 51, played a part in arranging more than 300 fake marriages between Nigerians facing deportation and east European migrant workers desperate for cash, at St Peter’s Church, St Leonards, between July 2005 and July 2009.

Adelasoye was jailed for four years - along with Reverend Alex Brown and Vladymyr Buchak - at Lewes Crown Court in July last year, having been convicted of conspiracy to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration laws.

On Monday, he appealed against that conviction before Lord Justice Stanley Burnton, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Mr Justice MacDuff at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.

The court heard Adelasoye, of St Matthews Drive, St Leonards, who claimed to be an upstanding immigration law expert, had in fact been dismissed by a solicitors firm for dishonesty.

Nigerian-born Adelasoye helped the African participants in the marriage scam by advising them on their applications for residency once they were wed. He already knew many of them through his role as pastor at the Ark of Hope Christian Centre in Marine Court, St Leonards. His lawyers this week claimed that his trial had been rendered unfair by evidence of his dismissal by the solicitors firm being put before the jury. It was claimed that evidence was ‘irrelevant and would tend to prejudice the jury against him’.

But, dismissing his bid to appeal, Mr Justice Griffith Williams said the evidence was in fact ‘highly probative’ and the jury was rightly allowed to hear it.

“The submission of the evidence before the jury could not have had such an effect on the trial so as to require its exclusion,” the judge concluded.