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Sham marriage accused claims cash was used to send hand sanitiser to fight Ebola

A church pastor accused of playing a key role in a sham marriage racket says money found in his bank accounts was from donations and was used to buy hand sanitiser for people in Nigeria fearing the Ebola virus.


The prosecution allege Donald Nwachuckwu had a number of bank accounts with £153,000 paid into them between 2006 and 2014, but there is no tax record to justify the sum.

But giving evidence for the first time, Nwachuckwu said funds in the main current account – in which the majority of money was deposited – came from legitimate sources and was used to help others through his work at the Kingdom of Godfire Ministry.

He said: "Some of the money in the account was from the church, that is offerings and donations given to the church, and some was from people in the church who do not have their own accounts and wanted me to buy things for them.

"They would give me cash and that would be paid into the account.

"Some relatives in Nigeria had asked them to buy hand sanitiser in the time of Ebola. They bought a lot of that.

"They had to buy it and ship it down to Nigeria and I helped them to do that."

Nwachuckwu, of Sabell Road, Smethwick, and seven others are currently on trial for conspiring to facilitate a breach of immigration law between January 1, 2012 and March 13, 2015.

Africans allegedly paid up to £6,500 for a sham marriage that allowed them to stay in this country. They all deny the charge.

The prosecution say they were provided with a bogus bride or fake long-term partner who were mainly Eastern European.

During his evidence, Nwachuckwu denied having access to all the bank accounts the prosecution have linked to him. He added a mobile phone attributed to him by the crown in fact belonged to an illegal immigrant named Timitobe Jide who had lived with him from 2010 and was also a pastor at the church who had access to the same bank accounts.

But under cross-examination, Mr Stephen Thomas, prosecuting, questioned whether Mr Jide exists.

Mr Thomas said: "There must be some books for the church showing a 'pastor Timitobe', if he exists? There must be something in the church documents?"

Nwachuckwu, aged 41, answered: "How can you put an illegal immigrant on paper, someone who came to this country on a truck?"

Mr Thomas, said: "So being an illegal immigrant means there is hardly any records of him at all, is that right?"

Nwachuckwu, answered: "Here in Wolverhampton there are many illegal immigrants."

The trial continues.

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