- Yvonne Gibney, 55, had been married to Maurice Gibney for 17 years
- Her oil-contractor husband had been living in Oman because of work
- She saw comments on his Facebook and followed them to a woman’s profile
- There she found pictures of them kissing and wearing wedding clothes
- She discovered couple had married in a lavish £45,000 ceremony in Oman
- Father-of-three Gibney pleaded guilty to bigamy at Wirral Magistrates’ Court
A wife discovered her husband of 17 years had secretly married another woman in a lavish £45,000 ceremony – after she saw the new couple kissing on Facebook.
Yvonne Gibney, 55, had been married to globe-trotting oil contractor Maurice Gibney for the best part of two decades.
But it was only when she checked Facebook and saw photographs of Mr Gibney, 49, dressed in a wedding suit and cuddling teacher Suzanne Prudhoe, that she learned that her husband – and father to her son – had married another woman.
The mother-of-two soon discovered that her husband had not only married again during an expensive ceremony surrounded by palm trees in Oman – but that he had actually tied the knot 11 months earlier.
She learned that his family – who were told that Mr and Mrs Gibney were divorced – had also attended the wedding held at the British embassy in the Arab state, and that her mother-in-law had walked her husband down the aisle.
She then hunted around for more information about the lavish ceremony, before going to police with evidence of his bigamous marriage.
The father-of-three, who lives and works as a senior contractor for Oman Oil, pleaded guilty to bigamy at Wirral Magistrates’ Court. He was handed a six-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
In an emotional statement read out in court, Mrs Gibney revealed that in the run-up to the bigamous wedding, her husband had even cheated on her at Christmas when she had flown out to see him in Oman.
He falsely claimed he had to go away ‘on business’ – but instead he flew back to the the UK to be with Miss Prudhoe.
Mrs Gibney said: ‘I loved him unconditionally and believed that love was reciprocated. I simply don’t have the words to effectively convey the pain and hurt and sense of betrayal. I have to accept that my husband was unfaithful emotionally and physically for a prolonged period of time.’
Earlier Mrs Gibney told the court she had met her husband – who she said has a tax-free salary of £85k when she was deployed to Nigeria almost two decades ago.
But unbeknown to her, over the years Gibney had spun a web of lies claiming that he had divorced her, telling his family and Miss Prudhoe they had kept the split secret for the sake of their children.
He also had claimed Mrs Gibney was ‘crazy’ and had urged his family not to have any contact with them.
In Christmas 2011 she visited Oman with their son to see Gibney but he said he had to leave them to due to business commitments. He then left his wife and son in Oman to travel back to the UK to spend Christmas with Miss Prudhoe in Stourbridge, near Birmingham.
He did not rejoin his family until December 27, at which point they opened their Christmas presents.
Mrs Gibney added: ‘He said it was due to pressures of work. The reality was to conceal the relationship and holiday with her.
Mrs Gibney, 55, had been married to globe-trotting oil contractor Maurice Gibney for 17 years. She found online photographs of Mr Gibney (pictured), 49, dressed in a wedding suit and cuddling teacher Suzanne Prudhoe
‘I have tried to understand Maurice’s actions. Let alone planning it and going to such extremes. Maurice gave the impression that he was fully committed to our marriage,’
The following year he claimed he would spent Christmas with his family but pulled out citing depression.
She added: ‘He agreed to come home on the 27th and told my son of the plans but never arrived. Naturally I was very worried and thought he must be very depressed. Christmas was not good for us.
‘He actually spent that Christmas in the UK with Suzanne Prudhoe with both his and Suzanne’s family.’
Photographs showed a grinning Gibney kissing Miss Prudhoe (pictured) who was sporting a white wedding dress
Mrs Gibney said the couple eventually agreed to divorce, but last February – a week before details were to be agreed – she spotted comments about her husband on Facebook and traced them to Miss Prudhoe’s profile, leading her to discover he had illegally married Miss Prudhoe on March 20, 2013.
Photographs of the event showed a grinning Gibney in open-necked shirt, cream jacket and slacks kissing Miss Prudhoe who was sporting a white wedding dress.
The wedding invitations simply said: ‘The groom Maurice’ and ‘The bride Suzanne’ March 2013. Other photos showed them exchanging vows under a white gazebo on a sandy beach.
Mrs Gibney added: ‘I found out about the wedding by a few comments on Facebook that led through to other comments. I clicked on Suzanne Prudhoe’s profile and saw as her Facebook profile her wedding day, kissing my husband in their wedding finery.’
She found that after the ceremony at the Embassy on March 20 they were to hold a celebration party at the Al Bustan Hotel in Muscat, Oman.
She added: ‘A bigamous wedding is rare, as is getting married at the Embassy. I pretended I wanted to have a wedding there and I said a friend had attended the Prudhoe-Gibney wedding and she gave me all the details of the wedding and all the costings.’
Mrs Gibney told the court that she had been in ‘daily’ contact with her husband in the lead up to the illegal marriage and that he had exchanged 11 emails with her discussing bed linen – the day before his bigamous wedding.
When she tried to contact him on the big day, he was to have been ‘unwell’ but later claimed he had been cycling – lies she said were all examples that ‘epitomised his skill and power’.
She added: ‘I had no knowledge of Suzanne Prudhoe’s existence or relationship with my husband. It appeared she announced her engagement to my husband on Facebook in May 2012. To initiate into that bigamous marriage, my whole marriage became worthless.
‘If he had wanted a divorce we could have started proceedings years ago. All the pain inflicted was completely unnecessary. I feel the intensity could only be seen as deliberate intent to harm his family.’
She told the court that the wedding had cost £45,000, after she made inquiries at the celebration venue with the wedding planner. She said the new wedding had been ‘gossiped about’ and that although she had tried to keep the situation as secret as possible her professional reputation had been damaged ‘through absolutely no fault of my own’.
She added that her husband had been ‘violently abusive’ and that he had also ‘attempted to run me over’ which she believed was witnessed by her son.
She added that on his last visit home he left the house without saying goodbye to his son – who has since fallen ill with depression – and that the ‘whole episode had a devastating effect on his life’.
The former family home in Merseyside. The father-of-three, who lives and works as a senior contractor for Oman Oil, pleaded guilty to bigamy at Wirral Magistrates’ Court. He was handed a six month prison sentence suspended for two years
She added that due to the stress she was also diagnosed with depression and was unable to work for two months. She told the court: ‘I carried the guilt but I couldn’t have prevented the harm caused to my children.’
She added that during divorce proceedings he attempted to conceal assets and possessions and because of legal fees she was forced to re-mortgage the house, sell her mother’s inherited jewellery and get two more jobs.
In court defence lawyer Kieran Fielding said his client left school at 16 and became a joiner but qualified as a quantity surveyor after returning to university at 21.
He said: ‘After two years he was working on the Channel Tunnel and commenced to work off-shore. By that time he had a child with a lady and that relationship broke down. He has worked across the globe, 14-15 years in Africa – that may be at risk because of the conviction.
‘During his working life he has supported himself, when he was married to Mrs Gibney he supported her and their son, he would say he has continued to do so during divorce proceedings.’
But District Judge Michael Abelson told Gibney: ‘You initiated into a bigamous marriage, you knew precisely what you were doing at the time you did it, there was no hiding it. You can tell just how bitter she is about it, I’m not here to sentence you because she feels bitter I’m sentencing you for what you have done.
‘I’m not to rehash the details of the divorce settlement. You entered a bigamous marriage. There are plenty of marvellous testimonials on your behalf, they can’t save you. The appropriate sentence is custodial. I find myself able to suspend such a sentence of six months for two years.’
Gibney was also ordered to pay £85 costs and £80 victim surcharge.