One spouse at a time
By AZARD ALI Thursday, October 11 2012
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MR & MRS: George Wildman (left), one of two husbands whom Lynette Phillips (right) was married to at the same time. She was yesterday fined $7,000 by ...
IN ORDERING her to pay a fine of $7,000, San Fernando High Court judge Justice Geoffrey Henderson yesterday advised a woman, on trial for bigamy, that: “In this country, it is one spouse at a time.”
And commenting outside the courthouse, at the end of the trial, one of the woman’s two husbands — George Wildman — admitted to Newsday: “I nearly dropped down dead, when I found out my wife had another husband!”
Wildman, 66, of Couva married Lynette Phillips, 57, in 1995. But in saying “I do” to Wildman, Phillips was still married to Leroy Phillips. Yesterday, Henderson spoke out against the crime of bigamy.
Henderson told Lynette that were it not for the fact that this was her first brush with the law, there was a high possibility she could have been jailed for being legally married to two men at the same time.
The judge said that people’s religious belief pertaining to multiple marriages at any one time, is not recognised by law. He then ordered Lynette of Couva to pay the $7,000 fine by November or in default serve seven months imprisonment.
The court heard that Lynette got married to Leroy Phillips in 1977 and lived with him for 18 years. She later struck up a relationship with Wildman and a month after leaving her matrimonial home, Lynette married Wildman on November 7, 1995 in a simple ceremony at the Warden’s Office.
Henderson said part of the legal process of marrying at the Warden’s office entails an Oath by both partners that they are either single or in the woman’s case, a spinster. Wildman was legally divorced at the time he married Lynette.
As Lynette stood in the dock of the Fourth Assize, Henderson related that two years into Wildman’s marriage he became suspicious when his wife kept refusing to introduce him to her parents, bluntly telling him: “I don’t want any relative in my business.”
It was a woman who alerted Wildman to Lynette’s previous marriage, Henderson related, as he commented on husband number two’s predicament. “This man felt ashamed, cheated, cheap and emasculated. Imagine the injury it caused Mr Wildman. You bruised the ego of a decent man. But thankfully, you spared him the humiliation of a public trial, by pleading guilty,” Henderson said.
Wildman went to the Hall of Justice in 2006 and obtained copies of Lynette’s two marriage certificates - one showing her married to Phillips and the other, to him. He immediately went to the Couva Police Station and told PC Anand Bissoon who later charged Lynette.
At the end of the Preliminary Inquiry in the Couva Magistrates’ Court, Lynette was committed to stand trial in the High Court. She first appeared before Henderson on July 19, and pleaded guilty.
Henderson said that if there was evidence Lynette married Wildman for financial gain, the court would be compelled to impose a jail sentence based on English precedents.
“Let it not be said that bigamy is not a serious crime. There are implications on children who inherit parents’ estate, the wife who is a beneficiary of insurance and also spouses who can be afforded status in a country by virtue of being married to a citizen,” Henderson said.
At the end of the trial, Wildman said the punishment was too lenient because Lynette betrayed the love he had for her and this caused him many sleepless nights.
“When a woman told me that Lynette was a married woman, if I was not strong enough, I would have dropped dead. I loved her and that’s why I married her.
“She never told me she was married. It was a woman who met me and told me my wife was already married. I felt so ashamed,” Wildman said.
For her part, a smiling Lynette told Newsday, shortly after walking out of the courthouse: “This case put me under too much stress. There is so much crime going on in the country and they prosecute me for this? I have nothing more to say.”