PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Oct 11, CMC – High Court judge Geoffrey Henderson has told 57-year-old Lynette Phillips that she should have “one spouse at a time” as he imposed a TT$7,000 (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) fine on her after she pleaded guilty to a charge of bigamy.
The judge also informed her that were it not for the fact that this was her first brush with the law, she could have been given a jail term for being legally married to two men at the same time.
He said people’s religious belief pertaining to multiple marriages at any one time, is not recognised by law and ordered Lynette to pay the fine by November or in default serve seven months imprisonment.
The court was told that Lynette got married to Leroy Phillips in 1977 and lived with him for 18 years. She later struck up a relationship with George Wildman and married him on November 7, 1995.
The judge recalled testimony 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.”
But it was another woman who alerted Wildman to Lynette’s previous marriage.
“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,” Justice Henderson said.
He said 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.