I still love my bigamist husband: Woman discovers her husband of 25 years had secretly wed another woman and was living a double life
Lisa Curran discovered a photo of her husband Martin Curran's illegal wedding last year to Andrea Whiteside
He pleaded guilty to bigamy and sentenced to 250 hours' community serviceLisa Curran is distraught he did not get a custodial sentence after she was left humiliated and ashamed by the affair
23:49 GMT, 19 August 2012
23:55 GMT, 19 August 2012
Lisa Curran looked through her wedding album this week and wept. Even though she recalls the day she got married as the happiest of her life, the couple smiling into the camera seem like strangers to her now.
For last Wednesday, Lisa’s husband of 25 years, Martin Curran, pleaded guilty to bigamy, having led a double life with another woman for more than six years.
Magistrates in Runcorn, Cheshire, sentenced him to 250 hours’ community service after hearing how he married Andrea Whiteside, 31, in an illegal ceremony last July. Lisa — who only discovered his treachery after chancing upon a picture of his illicit second wedding — is distraught that he didn’t get a custodial sentence.
Betrayed: Lisa Curran, here with Martin on their wedding day in 1987, discovered that her husband of 25 years had secretly wed another woman. He pleaded guilty to bigamy
‘He’s barely been punished, yet I must live with a lifetime of looking like a gullible idiot,’ she says. ‘I’m so embarrassed and ashamed. I’ll never be able to trust any man again. This has ruined my life.’
Lisa, 45, returned to her home in St Helens, Merseyside, after the court case and found herself dwelling on the pictures from her own wedding day that were once so precious to her.
‘It felt like torture,’ she says. ‘We looked so happy and excited about our future together back then.
My parents paid for a big church do — all our family and friends were there. They really pushed the boat out for us.
‘We both felt so emotional when we took our vows; it was supposed to be for ever. Now I don’t even recognise those two people as Martin and me any more. We look too happy for it to be us.’
Yet even now, despite all the pain and
humiliation her husband has heaped upon her by marrying another woman,
months before their silver wedding anniversary, Lisa says there is a
part of her that still loves him.
‘He’s the father of my children, and the
only man I have ever made love with,’ she confides. ‘The fact that I
still can’t completely let go of my feelings for him only adds to my
hurt and makes me even more of a victim. After all, he obviously stopped
caring about me a long time ago, so why can’t I do the same’
Two wives: Mr Curran married Andrea Whiteside, 31, in an illegal ceremony last July while still married to Lisa Curran
It really does seem incredible that Lisa feels anything other than sheer venom towards the husband who treated her so cruelly by taking up with a woman who lives just 15 minutes drive away. She may have instigated divorce proceedings but part of her heart clearly remains firmly in the marriage.
Lisa was just 15 when she met Curran, then 21, in a local pub. They married in April 1987 and had two children, a daughter, now 24, and a son, 21.
Lisa says they were very happy for years before infidelity first crept into their marriage in 1999. ‘I caught Martin in a pub holding hands with another woman, and threw him out,’ she says. ‘He pleaded with me to take him back and after two weeks I did. He said he’d made a terrible mistake, and would never hurt me like that again.’
The couple salvaged their marriage and Lisa says her husband, a serving police officer for 20 years, seemed to have learned his lesson.
But in 2005, after he left the force to set up a motorcycle training business, he met Andrea Whiteside — the woman he would go on to marry bigamously. Their relationship developed while he was giving her lessons.
Lisa recalls: ‘I was working in the
office answering the phone, and met Andrea myself a couple of times.
Straight away I sensed she’d got her eye on my husband, but Martin
laughed it off saying that at 23 or 24 years old she was young enough to
be his daughter.
‘She started texting him every day,
asking him questions about her lessons or telling him about some bike
she’d seen. It became a running joke between us that within five minutes
of Coronation Street ending she would send him a text. The closing
theme tune would come on and I’d say: “She’ll be texting you in a
minute” — and sure enough, she did.
‘It was only when he stopped laughing about it that intuition told me that something really was going on between them.’
Lisa repeatedly confronted
Curran, accusing him of being unfaithful. ‘He trotted out every clich
in the book —that I was imagining it, that I was making something out of
nothing and that he didn’t deserve to be treated with such suspicion.
But I knew he was lying.’
'I caught his holding hands with a woman in a pub'
Eventually at the end of 2005, Curran admitted to having had a month-long affair and promised to end it. ‘I forgave him. I’d already forgiven him once and managed to still be happy together, and so I decided that for my family’s sake I could do it again.’
And things did seem to settle down, right up until Curran walked out on his family on Christmas morning in 2006.
‘I suspect he went straight back to Andrea,’ says Lisa, a support worker for people with learning disabilities. ‘He’s always denied that, but I don’t know where else he would have gone.
‘It came completely out of the blue. Yet a few days later, he was back in touch, asking if he could come round to see me, as though nothing had happened.’
One might presume that at this point that Lisa would have said ‘enough’s enough’ and told Curran to stay away. Incredibly, she welcomed him into the family home, but as a visitor rather than a permanent fixture. He remained vague about exactly where he was living, but gave Lisa the impression that he was renting a flat locally.
‘I wanted to take my time, rather than take him straight back. The trust needed to be rebuilt. We were living apart but after that he came round almost every day. The kids were usually out, so it was clearly to see me rather than them.
‘We regularly had sex, and to be honest it felt as though we were still a married couple, but we just lived apart. I was OK with that.’
Found photo: Lisa found a picture of the illicit second wedding and asked Mr Curran several times if he was unfaithful and while she has been humiliated there is part of her that still loves him
As time passed, they also shared other more mundane pastimes, like watching TV together and eating home-cooked meals. But whenever Lisa asked if she could visit Curran at his home, he fobbed her off.
‘He’d tell me it was a dump, and he didn’t want me to see it. I accepted that as the truth because if he was spending so much time with me why would he lie Whenever I asked him about Andrea he said that was all over, and I believed him.’
Over the years that followed, this strange set-up began to feel normal to Lisa. ‘Then last summer we started talked about me moving in with him. There was always some reason why things had to be delayed such as the landlord messing him about with paperwork.
‘As usual, I accepted what he said as the truth. I can see now that I was incredibly gullible and naive, but it all seemed very plausible at the time.’
'When I asked where he lived, he fobbed me off'
Even on the day Curran illegally remarried, Lisa says he phoned and texted her as normal. ‘As far as I remember he seemed relaxed and chatty. I didn’t suspect a thing.’
Meanwhile, the vicar who performed the wedding at St Michael’s Church, in Burtonwood, Cheshire, had repeatedly asked the groom for papers to prove that he was divorced, right up to the wedding day itself. When he failed to produce them, Rev Wilf Alexander later told police, he felt ‘under pressure with a church full of people’ to marry them, so took Curran at his word.
'Barely punished': Curran, a police officer, was handed 250 hours community service after pleading guilty to bigamy at Runcorn Magistrates' Court, pictured. Lisa said 'he's barely been punished'
The first hint Lisa had that something was dreadfully amiss came towards the end of last year. She had been trying to track down a relative on Facebook, and when she typed in the name Curran into the site’s search engine, a picture of Andrea Whiteside, calling herself Curran, popped up.
‘It was from her wedding day, and I could see Martin in the background. I went cold when I saw it and wondered what the hell she was playing at. I rang Martin and told him what I’d seen. He immediately brushed it off, saying he’d look into it.’
At that point, the very idea that her husband could have committed bigamy seemed preposterous.
That night, Curran allayed her fears by persuading her the image was a fake posted by Andrea, who, he claimed, had taken to stalking him.
When Lisa said she was going to go and see a solicitor to put a stop to it, her husband told her he would look after that side of things. Incredibly, she says: ‘I thought he was looking after me, and saving me from any further upset. In fact it was just yet more lies.’ But this time, rather than letting it wash over her, Lisa’s suspicions increased as Martin tried to cover his tracks.
Lied until the end: Lisa said Curran admitted he had got married but said he also got divorced. 'It was incredible that even now he couldn't tell the truth,' she said
‘First he told me he’d been to see a solicitor, who had written to Andrea telling her to change her name back to Whiteside on Facebook.
‘Every day I checked to see if she had changed it, but she was still on there listed as Curran.’
By now Lisa had messaged Andrea herself telling her to do just that, but heard nothing back. Martin urged her to back off and let him go down the legal route.
Every time she asked him why nothing was happening, he’d bamboozle her with talk of judges and legal processes that he’d picked up through the course of his time as a police officer.
‘But none of it was ringing true,’ she says. ‘I began to think that actually, he really had gone off and married someone else while I was still his legal wife; while he was still sleeping with me and telling me he loved me. Finally I decided to find out for sure exactly what was going on.’
After four months of prevarication, Lisa sprang into action with a surprising vigour.
She made enquiries with Warrington Borough Council’s department of births, deaths and marriages, which confirmed that her husband and Miss Whiteside had got married. She was given details of the church where the ceremony took place, and spoke to the vicar there.
She also got in touch with her nearest crown court where officials confirmed that no divorce had been granted against her.
‘It was all incredibly shocking,’ she says. ‘But by then I was running on adrenaline, which meant I didn’t feel any of the pain — just a fierce determination to get to the bottom of it all.’
Having collected all the damning evidence, she confronted her husband, who predictably denied he’d done anything wrong.
‘He told me that yes, he had got married, but that he’d divorced me without me realising it. It was incredible that even now he couldn’t tell the truth.
‘I told him I knew he was lying but that I’d give him three days to present me with those divorce papers or I would go to the police. He never did and so on April 18 I reported him for bigamy.
‘I was angry, bewildered and dreadfully hurt. I hated him and despised her. I thought she’d been dispatched from my life years earlier, yet in fact she was very much a part of the double life my husband was living.
‘I’d talked it all through with the kids who were adamant I had to report him. They wanted to see their father punished just as much as I did.’
Curran, who now works as a farm labourer, told the arresting officers that he hadn’t committed bigamy, and that his wife had divorced him. He only changed his plea to guilty at his court case last week.
Lisa now believes that, after their
apparent reconciliation, he was secretly sharing a home with Andrea and
frantically juggling an increasingly complex double life. ‘But I’ve
never been able to get to the bottom of where he was actually living,’
‘Since I reported him to the police I’ve
been told by a couple of people that he had been living with Andrea. I
don’t suppose I’ll ever know for sure, and after everything I’ve been
through I don’t really care any more.’
Curran was sentenced to 250 hours
community service for his crime, which chairman of the bench Kathy Haeck
described as ‘dishonest behaviour’. She said: ‘I’m sure you’ve learned a
very salutary lesson from this experience.
‘For someone of your professional
standing, it must have been difficult to go through this process, I hope
you have learned from that.’
'I just can't let go of my feelings for him'
But Lisa doubts that her soon-to-be ex-husband will have learnt anything at all.
‘He’ll just be delighted that he got away with it,’ she says bitterly. ‘He should have gone to prison, but as it is people must now be thinking that I’m more of an idiot than he is for not realising what was going on.
‘Whenever I’ve read about this kind of thing happening in the papers, or seen it in a movie, I’ve thought like everyone does: “How could the wife not know” But I didn’t have a clue, and frankly that is as tough to live with as what he actually did to me.
‘I’m at the lowest point in my life right now, and normally the one person who would be able to pick me back up by holding me in his arms and promising me that everything will be OK is Martin.
‘I suppose the only saving grace in all of this is that I’ll never fall for that lie again.’