Valentine's Day bigamist let off with warning

A woman who committed bigamy on Valentine's Day has been let off with a warning from a judge that in times past she would have been jailed.

Fiona Frances Fielding, 39, of Whangaripo was sentenced today at North Shore District Court on a charge of bigamy and one of making a false statement to a marriage celebrant.

The charges related to her marriage to Nino Nish on Valentine's Day last year while still legally being married to her previous husband.

She had pleaded guilty at a previous court appearance.

Judge Roy Wade said Fielding had been married to her first husband from 1996 until splitting up with him in 2011. However, neither had ever filed divorce proceedings.

Her lawyer Peter Syddall told the court that his client had assumed her former family lawyer had filed the proceedings on her behalf, but that was not the case.

Her former lawyer was no longer practising, and any documentation relating to her divorce application could not be found, Mr Syddall said.

His client would never have gone through with the second marriage if she was aware she was not divorced, he said.

The first marriage had been “well and truly over for a very, very long time” but was still causing “considerable difficulty” and would be legally terminated soon, Mr Syddall said.

Judge Wade said that when he first started in the legal profession in 1963, people were jailed for committing bigamy. Luckily for Fielding, that was no longer the case.

Her offending technically had no victim and her second marriage hadn't been for anything untoward such as committing immigration fraud, he said.

The police prosecutor described the charge as “unusual in any event”.

Judge Wade convicted Fielding on the two charges and ordered her to come up for sentence if called upon in the next 12 months.

Outside court, Mr Syddall described the sentence as being essentially a good behaviour bond. He added that it was the first time in his legal career that he had represented a client facing a bigamy charge.

By Brendan Manning of APNZ

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