Corby bigamist lied about Vegas wedding before marrying second wife

He gave officers a fake divorce certificate - but slipped up

By Sam Wildman
Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 2:35 pm

November 13, 2017, was supposed to be the happiest day of Lee Stewart's life.

At 1.30pm at Kettering Park Hotel the Corby man said "I do", kissed the bride and posed for romantic snaps for the family album.

But all along he knew it was a sham because he was still legally married to the woman he wed in Las Vegas in 2002.

Lee Stewart.

And when he was caught out he handed officers a fake divorce certificate - but slipped up because it was from the wrong court.

Yesterday (Wednesday) Northampton Crown Court heard a storyline more likely to be in Coronation Street than real life after the 55-year-old admitted bigamy and committing an act with intent to pervert the course of justice.

Like every marriage, he was asked a series of questions before the ceremony with his second wife in Kettering to confirm details such as if he had been married before.

Stewart, of Herford Close on Corby's Danesholme estate, lied and said he was single.

Prosecuting, Almas Ben-Aribia said he would have been asked to check the details he had provided were correct and, up until the point where he said "I do", would have had at least FOUR opportunities to tell the ceremony officer that he had already married.

Had he done so, the ceremony would have been stopped and he wouldn't have found himself facing the possibility of prison.

Ms Ben-Aribia said: "At no stage during the interview or ceremony did the defendant state that he had been previously married."

What Stewart didn't divulge was that he previously married a woman in Las Vegas on June 24, 2002, and that they were still legally wed.

He married his first wife at the Candlelight Wedding Chapel - where celebrities including Sir Michael Caine and Whoopi Goldberg have tied the knot.

His second wife was aware of his first marriage and had already emailed Northamptonshire's registrar to say they were still waiting for his divorce papers.

Ms Ben-Aribia said: "She had requested a change of the date of the ceremony in order for the papers to be received."

Stewart, who wore a black suit, green shirt and black face mask and sobbed throughout proceedings in the dock, moved to England in 2010 and split up from his wife in 2016.

He served divorce papers twice, but the court heard his first wife was advised not to sign by her lawyers.

Ms Ben-Aribia added: "As far as she was concerned she was still married to the defendant."

Police opened a bigamy investigation and Stewart was interviewed by police in Kettering on August 7 last year where his web of lies spun out of control.

He handed officers copies of a document purporting to be a divorce certificate from a Supreme Court in America.

But the court heard that on August 30 an investigating officer called to speak to a court clerk in California and was informed that the Supreme Court wouldn't have issued such a certificate - because they are instead issued by the County Court.

In his interview the bigamist said he believed he was divorced and was under a lot of stress.

Stewart and his second wife are still in a relationship and she supported him in the public gallery as he heard his fate.

Mitigating, Liam Muir admitted Stewart's actions would normally warrant an immediate prison sentence but urged Recorder Hallam QC to suspend it.

He said the Corby man suffers from severe anxiety, panics and makes "ridiculous" decisions.

He said: "They (Stewart and his second wife) have both found it very difficult.

"He is a very anxious man who panics very quickly."

And Recorder Hallam QC decided the prison sentence could "just" be suspended because Stewart's actions were so out of character.

He told the bigamist: "You pretended that a divorce document existed and pre-dated the marriage in Northamptonshire, in the hope that it was sufficiently well done that it would make the recipient believe that what it said was the truth.

"It was, although you did not realise it, a very flawed document."

Stewart was jailed for nine months, suspended for two years, and will have to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

He will have to wear an electronic tag for three months, take part in rehabilitation activities and pay a contribution to court costs.

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