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Bigamy accused says she was set up; First marriage never dissolved court told.

Byline: By Chloe Griffiths

A MOTHER-OF-THREE walked down the aisle while still married to her first husband, a jury was told yesterday.

Angela Kelly is accused of committing bigamy by marrying Garry Stockdale in 2005.

The 38-year-old is alleged to have told vicars who agreed to take her through her vows a second time that she had obtained a decree absolute from her first marriage - despite knowing she was still legally wed to Robert Atkinson.

Kelly, of Firtree Avenue in Harraton, Washington, is on trial at Newcastle Crown Court after denying one count of bigamy.

She insists Mr Atkinson had "set her up" by telling her their marriage had been annulled, but court records show, that despite solicitors becoming involved, their marriage was never legally dissolved.

Lesley Dickinson, prosecuting, said no divorce papers had ever been processed.

She told the court that Kelly had first married Robert Atkinson in September 1996. The couple had met a few years earlier and already had a son, called Andrew.

The marriage broke down in 2001 and the pair both began relationships with new partners.

Miss Dickinson said that in 2002 Mr Atkinson's solicitor contacted Kelly to begin the divorce process.

A year later, Kelly's solicitors raised the issue of dissolving the marriage, but Miss Dickinson said: "It never happened".

The court heard that on August 20, 2005, Kelly went down the aisle again with Mr Stockdale at St George's Church in Fatfield, near Washington, after telling people - including the vicars at the church - she had been granted a decree absolute, despite the fact she was never able to produce any document to back her up.

Miss Dickinson said: "The marriage went ahead without any of the clergy or anybody at the church being aware of the difficulty regarding that earlier marriage."

But in July 2006, it came to light she was still married to Mr Atkinson and she was arrested and interviewed a month later.

Miss Dickinson said: "She told police she received a decree absolute, but she couldn't find it. She could not remember signing any divorce papers or any document.

"But she said she had shown it to the vicar, denied knowingly marrying Mr Stockdale bigamously, and alleged Mr Atkinson had something to do with setting this up."

Locum priest for Fatfield at the time, the Reverend Paul Harrison yesterday told the jury he had never seen any legal paperwork, but had assumed the couple had taken the relevant documents to church staff after advising them to.

The jury was told that a legal defence to the crime of bigamy was to believe the first marriage had been dissolved and therefore the second marriage was legitimate.

The trial continues.

CAPTION(S):

ACCUSED: Angela Kelly, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, is charged with bigamy.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 13, 2007
Words:462
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