Woman 'tricked vicar into thinking she had married husband's twin'
An Ivorian woman duped UK authorities and a vicar into thinking she had married her husband's twin brother to fraudulently claim benefits, a court heard yesterday.
Tailblah Assoua, 34, filled out documents showing she had married French citizen Auguste Bernard Niamien Atte Akke. In reality her husband was his sibling, Laurent Auguste Mahoubie Atte Akke, who was already in the UK illegally, it was claimed.
Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said Assoua used the French citizenship from the fake marriage to get a European Economic Area residence card and a National Insurance number.
He said the vicar who performed her phoney 2006 marriage at a church in Plymouth, would give evidence of how he was duped into believing her spouse was another man.
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He told Plymouth Crown Court: "She would not have been entitled to benefits without a National Insurance number. Her entitlement was based on the fact that her husband was an EU national."
Mr Fitzherbert said that Assoua's offences spanned six years between 2003 and 2009. He said she had lied about fleeing persecution and a polygamous marriage to an "old man" in a village in her native Ivory Coast when she first approached the Home Office for permission to stay in the UK in April 2003.
Assoua, who was pregnant, had claimed the child was the old man's when, in fact, it was her husband's.
Mr Fitzherbert said: "She claimed she had begun her journey from her village in March 2003. She claimed she had flown to Britain via France but couldn't say which British airport she had flown into.
"She claimed she used a passport that a friend had bought her. She said that passport was given to a lady who she couldn't name when she got to the airport. She was then put on a bus to Exeter."
Mr Fitzherbert said Assoua had "perhaps understandably" been desperate to get approval to stay in the UK as she had "no legal status to remain and was three months pregnant". He said: "She made a clumsy attempt to dupe the authorities."
Assoua, of Plymouth, is charged with seeking to remain in the country by deception, possessing false identity documents with intent, forgery of a registrar's record, possession of an article for use in fraud, namely a national insurance card, and four counts of fraud against the city council. She denies all charges.
The trial continues.