Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sham weddings bishop Pat Buckley receiving treatment for HIV independent bishop who conducted 14 sham marriages to flout immigration law has avoided a prison term.

Pat Buckley, 61, helped Bangladeshi men marry Portuguese women in Northern Ireland. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years, suspended for three years.

Mr Justice Mark Horner said Buckley was an important cog in the wheel of the conspiracy but suspended the prison sentence after hearing his long list of medical problems - including treatment for HIV.

Mr Justice Horner told Buckley: "What you did was wrong. You committed a series of serious crimes, which you did for financial reward."

The judge at Belfast Crown Court said the defendant had lost his hard-won reputation as a defender of the outsider and those shunned by society, which was bound to have hit him hard.

The offences were committed between May 28 2008 and September 2 2009.

Buckley pleaded guilty earlier this month.

The judge said he was paid a fee of between £300 and £350 per ceremony, much needed at a time when he was experiencing some financial difficulties.

The offences were committed after a television documentary on sham marriages and the judge said it must have been blindingly obvious what he was participating in.

They were ceremonies between EU and non-EU nationals who were seeking residency.

The judge said: "The crimes to which you pleaded guilty are not victimless crimes, nor do they constitute technical infringements of the criminal law."

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