A man who married an underage teen bride was sentenced to 18 months behind bars in Melbourne on Thursday. Burmese asylum seeker Mohammad Shakir only needs to spend two more weeks in prison due to time already served.

County Court Judge Lisa Hannan handed the 35-year-old man a maximum 18 months’ sentence but permitted him a 12-month release date. Shakir already spent almost a year in prison, and is therefore expected to be released within a fortnight. He must exhibit good behaviour for six months.

The court found that Shakir knew his bride was 15 or even younger when they married at the Noble Park mosque in September last year. He was also warned by child protection authorities against the union before the ceremony, which meant he knew that the practice is illegal in Australia, but the wedding still went ahead.

Defence barrister Sophie Parsons told the court that Shakir was coerced by the girl’s mother and former Imam Ibrahim Omerdic, who officiated the wedding. He apparently saw himself as the girl’s rescuer and the “supportive figure in her life” because she was having difficulties with her stepfather.

However, Hannan did not accept the excuse because he had already been warned by authorities not to go ahead with the wedding and yet he repeatedly told lies to hide the crime. And although Shakir’s home country of Myanmar allows child marriage, Shakir is now living in Australia where it is illegal, and hence must abide by its laws.

“We have one set of laws that govern all who choose to live in our community and those laws must be upheld,” the judge said. “The victim was entitled to a childhood you took from her. The message must be clear that offending which has the potential to so seriously damage the lives of our children will never be tolerated.”

Shakir came to the country by boat and spent time in immigration detention until he received a bridging visa. Parsons said her client has no intention of resuming his relationship with the victim. She added that he felt genuine remorse for his actions and understood that he would be sent to immigration detention.

Omerdic, meanwhile, was sentenced to two months’ prison in June for his role but was immediately released on a two-year bond. The girl’s mother was not charged, although Hannan noted that she breached her moral obligation to her daughter and deliberately broke the law. The mother was also warned by the child protection authorities before the wedding.