Scammer worried about jail's vegan food
Chetan Mashru fleeced desperate men for thousands while running a wedding visa scam but is now worried about the quality of vegan food in Queensland jails, where he is likely to end up.
Mashru, a former migration officer, and celebrant Divya Gowda are due to be sentenced on Tuesday over a spousal visa racket they ran from the "one-stop shop" set up at their Oxley townhouse in 2011.
They arranged 16 bogus weddings of Indian men to Australian women and earnt more than $100,000 with the scam, Brisbane District Court heard on Friday morning.
"It was not a small-scale affair by any means," crown prosecutor Greg Lynham said during sentence submissions.
Mr Lynham told the court a prison term was appropriate for both, but Mashru has asked for leniency, saying a long sentence would cause him undue hardship as he is a vegan and has medical issues.
His submission did not wash with Judge Terry Martin.
"I'm reluctant, to put it mildly, to accept anything Mr Mashru tells me," Judge Martin said.
But Mashru said he was already suffering, having been placed in custody on Thursday night after being found guilty by a jury.
"Since yesterday I wasn't able to eat or drink anything because of the principles that I have," he told the court.
Mashru and Gowda have been found guilty of a total 66 charges, 34 of which relate to Mashru helping grooms complete dishonest immigration applications.
Most of the couples whose sham weddings he helped arrange married at their first meeting at ceremonies which involved only a signing of documents and handing over of birth certificates.
"There were no marriage vows exchanged, none of the other trimmings that would otherwise be associated with a marriage," Mr Lynham said.
"These were marriages that were designed specifically and exclusively for the purpose of demonstrating that the couples were married, in order to support a visa application."
The court heard the grooms were usually charged between $9000 and $10,000, with Mashru keeping half, though one man paid $25,000.
Mashru, who represented himself at trial, also told the court on Thursday he should not be punished because "I don't believe I'm guilty".
The pair, who are both in custody, are due to be sentenced on Tuesday morning.
© AAP 2017
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