A MAN and wife who each wed someone else in sham marriages in a bid to stay in the UK have both walked free from court.

Illegal immigrants, Omorodion and Mercy Idehen, parents of three, went through ceremonies with Eastern Europeans in the Accrington area.

The couple, Nigerian nationals, were only the second and third people to be spared jail in a stream of sham marriage criminals who have appeared at Burnley Crown Court.

They kept their freedom because they are to give evidence against a co-accused in the scam.

Mercy Idehen, 44, a cook, and her partner, 46, were both of previous good character.

They each admitted obtaining or seeking to obtain leave to enter or remain in the UK by deception and providing false addresses for the marriages and signing the register.

The pair, of Scarborough Street, Moston, each received 52 weeks in jail, suspended for a year.

Prosecutor Stephen Parker said the defendants arrived in this country illegally in 2003/2004 from Italy and have children aged nine, 10 and 12.

Omorodion Idehen married a woman from the Czech Republic, at St Peter's Church, Accrington, on April 25, 2009.

On March 30, they had attended the vicarage and Idehen had completed an affidavit, putting forward an address in Orange Street, Accrington.

Mercy Idehen attended at St Peter's in May 2009 and completed an affidavit in support of a marriage, claiming she lived at Albert Street in the town.

On June 6, she wed Josef Badzo at All Saints Church, Clayton-le-Moors.