Man lived part-time with two wives

A FATHER-of-seven who married two women and lives part-time with each of them has escaped a jail term after admitting bigamy.Richard Parnell, 60, spends six days a week living with wife of 35 years Linda in Braintree, and one day a week with wife of six years Jacqueline, in Walton-on-the-Naze, Colchester magistrates heard yesterday .

By Juliette Maxam

A FATHER-of-seven who married two women and lives part-time with each of them has escaped a jail term after admitting bigamy.

Richard Parnell, 60, spends six days a week living with wife of 35 years Linda in Braintree, and one day a week with wife of six years Jacqueline, in Walton-on-the-Naze, Colchester magistrates heard yesterday .

He has four grown-up children with Linda, and three children under seven and a 12-year-old stepdaughter from his relationship with Jacqueline.


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But yesterday, magistrates heard that although both women were aware of each other, Linda only found out Parnell and Jacqueline were married this May.

After he admitted bigamy, Parnell – whose address was given as Lancaster Way, Braintree – was ordered to carry out 200 hours community service and pay £118 prosecution costs.

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The court heard how he was driven to the deceit after his son was convicted of murder.

Christine Hayes, prosecuting, read out a statement from Linda which said: "Richard and I had a good relationship until about ten years ago when our son was convicted of murder. It was a very stressful time for both of us. It hit Richard very hard.

"He confessed he was seeing a woman called Jackie. He met her while he was working for Braintree District Council at a car park."

Parnell left Linda to live with Jacqueline, who was 20 years younger than him, but returned to Linda after about six months.

However the relationship between Parnell and Jacqueline continued and the couple had three children together.

In her statement, Linda, who married Parnell in January 1968, said: "I've lived with the situation for the last ten years. I can't say I'm happy with it. We've had many rows. I was under the impression that Richard and Jackie were just friends because that's what he told me."

Mrs Hayes read out a statement from Jacqueline explaining how she had kept on asking Parnell to marry her as she felt depressed and insecure – but he refused.

Eventually she went to Colchester Register Office without his knowledge and arranged a wedding for November 20, 1996. She "assumed" Parnell was divorced.

"I told our new friends about the wedding, which put Richard in a difficult situation as they all assumed we were both divorced although he hadn't said he was. To save my face and to stop me looking a complete idiot he went ahead," said Jacqueline in her statement.

"I cannot say how sorry I am for causing so much trouble. He's a lovely man who works hard to support all his family and now he stands to lose absolutely everything down to my impatience," she added.

In Parnell's defence, solicitor James Baird Murray said: "He's no gay lothario who has broken the hearts of two women and run away from his responsibilities.

"His relationship with Jacqueline arose out of a very sad part of his life when his relationship to Linda was tested to the absolute limit.

"Mr Parnell accepts that in a period of weakness he allowed himself to commit an important offence."

Chairman of the magistrates' bench, Ann Strachan, said: "We recognise that the law with regard to marriage has been broken, which would normally attract a custodial sentence.

"We feel although Mr Parnell knowingly broke the law, the women involved were not wholly deceived. It was brought about by Mr Parnell's weak will.

"He looked after both families to his best ability."

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