Sarah, in bridal white, paid for for the wedding including flights and a pageboy outfit for her little boy
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Sarah, met dashing 22-year-old Haithem Ben Mohammed while on holiday in Tunisian on holiday, she fell completely under his spell. The couple met in May 2015 when Sarah and her son, Frankie-Ray were on holiday at Sahara Beach in northeast Tunisia.
She says: “Haithem was an entertainer at the hotel and we got chatting.”
“I only had a few days of my holiday left and while I was sad to leave him, I thought he would lose interest in me once I was home.”But Haithem stayed in constant contact. Sarah continues: “We spent all our spare time talking on Facebook and Skype.”
“I told him everything about myself. Haithem was such a good listener and said he’d care for me and give me another baby.”
In July 2015 Sarah went back to Tunisia. She says: “This time I stayed with his family and met all his friends. “As I left to come home, Haithem said he’d fallen in love with me and I told him I felt the same.”
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“It was then that he said, ‘Why don’t we get married?’ I was thrilled and immediately said yes.”
Haithem gave Sarah a silver engagement ring and the ceremony was booked for November 2015, just four months later. Sarah says: “I paid for everything. I forked out hundreds of pounds from my savings for clothes, the venue and extras.
“I saved every penny I made to pay for flights to Tunisia costing $923, a wedding dress for $66, $132 on wedding rings and a pageboy outfit for Frankie-Ray for $13.”
Three days after the wedding, Sarah returned home. She recalls: “I was heartbroken at leaving Haithem.
“The only thing that kept me going was knowing he would soon join us in the UK and we’d be together for ever.”At one stage, Sarah even had to turn to food banks to feed herself, her new husband and her five-year-old son Frankie-Ray.
She is now seeking to have her enstranged husband deported. Sarah says: “I thought Haithem loved me but he was just using me to pay his way into the UK.”
“I thought he really cared, when really he had another British woman lined up.”
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Over the next three months after her dream Tunisian wedding, Sarah worked seven days a week and took out loans to save up the $3300 she needed to pay for Haithem’s UK visa.
She says: “It was hard. I stopped all our days out and any food that wasn’t needed.
“Everything I earned went towards paying for Haithem’s visa.
“Within two months I’d saved $2637. and got the rest, including the money I needed for his flights and a $237 English test, with a bank loan.”
Haithem’s UK visa was granted and in March this year, he arrived in the UK.
Sarah says: “I picked him up from Heathrow and as we hugged, it felt so amazing to have him in my arms on UK soil.”
After the wedding in Tunisian euphoric Sarah returned home and started saving for her toyboy husband’s visa
But their honeymoon period did not last. With no money and the interest on her loans piling up, Sarah wanted Haithem to get a job.
She says: “I couldn’t pay off my loans and ended up owing $2637. Luckily a friend offered Haithem a labouring job for a few weeks.
“I was thrilled but Haithem wasn’t happy. He said it was slave labour, mixing cement all day.
“I felt really let-down and the worry of paying back all the debts really got me down.“There was a point when I resorted to going to food banks, yet all Haithem did was moan.”
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Then one evening, five weeks after he had arrived, he apologised. Sarah recalls: “He hugged me and told me, ‘I’m sorry’. The next day he kissed me as usual before going to work” and that would be the last time Sarah saw her husband. When she
came home at lunchtime all Haithem’s work clothes were gone. He called and left a message later tellig her, he had had left melater Then he her.
“I couldn’t believe it. I wanted an explanation but I couldn’t get one.”
Sarah reported him to the police as missing and police tracked him down to a house in Gairloch, a village in the Scottish Highlands.
“The police got in touch with me to say he was fine”.
“It was such a relief but then they told me he was never coming home. I had no way of contacting him.”
Two days later, Sarah discovered through a friend that Haithem was living with another woman. She says: “He had a secret girlfriend he had met two years ago while she was on holiday in Tunisia”.
“She’d even visited him after he’d asked me to marry him, but couldn’t afford to pay for his visa.
With no husband to show, Sarah Phillips now regrets the $7800 spent on the failed ‘marriage venture’
“I burst into tears. I felt sick with anger, knowing I’d been duped.
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“I thought he loved me but he was just plotting to come to the UK so he could live with her.”
Sarah has reported the matter to the British Home Office and says: “He now has two months to go back to Tunisia or be deported and I face paying out hundreds to get a divorce.
“I wish I’d never met Haithem. I hope my tale serves as a warning to anyone else meeting the man of their dreams on holiday.”
However when contacted, Haithem accused Sarah of trying to use him to augment her income: “When we were in Tunisia, we were fine but since we came here, she don’t care about me.”
“In my second week here she told me to go to work labouring while my hand is broken.”
“But she didn’t care, she only wanted me for money.”