A BIGAMIST who married two of his wives at the same register office claimed yesterday: “I’m the victim.”
Steven Smith, 52, claimed HE was duped by his latest bride – an African woman less than half his age.
Smith, a bacon factory worker from Whitwell-on-the-Hill between York and Malton, was a divorced dad when he wed his second wife in 2005.
The couple met when they worked together and married in Gambia after falling in love with the country during a holiday.
Smith returned to the West African nation after his marriage began to fail after two years – and found a new love.
He wed again – but made the mistake of not divorcing his second wife before he did, Teesside Crown Court was told.
Smith admitted bigamy and was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
Judge Tony Briggs also ordered him to carry out 150 hours’ unpaid work, and told him he should now sign the divorce papers.
Robert Mochrie, mitigating, said: “He acted hastily. If he had waited just a few months, perhaps a divorce may have finalised.
“This is contrary to the case where a man effectively leads a double life and both women are seriously wronged.”
Judge Briggs, who described the case as “peculiar”, asked Mr Mochrie: “What was the reason for the third marriage?”
The lawyer replied: “Dare I say it, Your Honour, love?”
He added: “I understand it was a young lady in her early 20s and this defendant was, perhaps understandably, taken by her and keen to tie the knot.
“Her motive appears to have come to fruition once they arrived back in the UK... she left him within days of getting here.
“He is a man who has been duped by his third wife. He has been wronged. He has been abandoned by his third wife. Her intentions are clear now – to dupe a man of more senior years, which so often happens to men who travel to foreign lands to seek happiness.”
The court heard Smith met his second wife when they worked together at ICI on Teesside in the early 2000s.
Rachael Masters, prosecuting, said they married four years later at the Banjul register office in Gambia. Seven years later, Smith was back at the venue with his new bride – with marriage papers in one hand and a bogus divorce letter in the other.