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Wife plea spares bigamist prison

Wife plea spares bigamist prison
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A bigamist has been spared jail because the wife he illegally married showed pity on him. Mark Palmer-Cook, 44, married his pregnant girlfriend Natalie Chown, but did not tell her he was still married to estranged second wife Helen Dean.

Ms Chown said in a letter to a judge at Plymouth Crown Court that she did not want him to go to jail. Palmer-Cook, of Arnside Close, Plymouth, admitted bigamy and was given a four-month suspended sentence. He was also ordered to pay £500 costs.

Family pressure

The court heard businessman Palmer-Cook married Ms Chown in 2001 when he was still married to Ms Dean, his second wife. He lied on forms at the registry office in Newton Abbot and used divorce documents from his first marriage to deceive the registrar. He was found out eight years later by social workers after Ms Dean, who had met another man, decided to adopt the child she had while married to Palmer-Cook.

The court heard that Palmer-Cook had now formalised his divorce and remarried Ms Chown. Judge Ian Leeming told him: "You wanted to marry Natalie Chown because of family circumstances involving a child. "There was a pressing need to marry Natalie Chown because of the impending birth of their child and the religious beliefs and attitudes of her parents." The court heard that Palmer-Cook and Ms Chown had a daughter aged seven who would suffer if he was sent to jail and he also had credit card debts of more than £15,000 which he was struggling to pay.

18 September 2009

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