A husband who forged his estranged wife's signature on a divorce consent form before marrying his lover walked free from court yesterday.
A judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court, sitting in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, sentenced Roy Jackson to 240 hours' community service after accepting that the 59-year-old had not tried to defraud his first wife, Janet.
Jackson, of Swan Village, West Bromwich, emerged from court with his second wife, Pamela, to applause from " supporters" and friends.
Sentencing the former businessman, Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC told him: "It appears you made no secret of your second marriage in 1999.
"The view I take is that you were grossly insensitive to the position of your wife Janet.
"I am not satisfied that you intended to defraud her or to act to her financial disadvantage."
Jackson, who rejected reports that he was a " globetrotting love-rat" prior to the hearing, admitted two counts of forgery, two of using a false instrument and one of perjury prior to a scheduled trial in January.
Reports have claimed that Jackson led an amazing double life for six years from 1997, telling Janet he was working in Malaysia when he was in fact living two miles away with Pamela.
The court heard that he spent less and less time with his first spouse from 1993 and effectively ceased to live with her in the late 90s, eventually visiting her for just a few hours every six weeks.
Prosecutor Kate Iliffe told the court: "It appears he was living with another woman by the name of Pamela."
Miss Iliffe also suggested the second marriage appeared to have been bigamous.
But the lawyer added that it was not yet clear whether the second marriage was bigamous as proceedings between Jackson and Janet to clarify the status of the divorce were still taking place in the family courts.
The judge was told Jackson married Pamela in December 1999 - just three months after he had forged 61-year-old Janet's signature on a consent form.
Walter Bealby, defending, said his client had not tried to hide his second wedding, even inviting his daughter from his first marriage to the ceremony.
The criminal intent of the offences had not been to deceive Janet, Mr Bealby submitted, adding: "There was no attempt to conceal from the first Mrs Jackson the fact that he was now married to Pamela."
The court also heard that the forger's mother now intended to leave her £130,000 house in Wednesbury, West Midlands, to her daughter-in-law.
About 20 friends of Jackson were in court to hear sentence passed and one was invited into the witness box to give evidence of his good character.
Altaf Hussein said Jackson had offered leadership to a local action group in Swan Village, helped elderly residents to obtain grants for redecoration of their homes and campaigned against anti-social behaviour.
Declining a prosecution request for compensation to be awarded to Janet for emotional distress caused by the offences, the judge said she appeared to be a "simplistic, naive and trusting" woman.
The judge told Jackson: "You were simply trying a short cut to achieve what was going to happen anyway.
"You cut corners to achieve what you wanted and in doing so you have committed these offences."
But the judge said such offences hindered attempts to keep official records, undermining society in general.
Speaking before the hearing, Jackson portrayed himself as the victim in the case and claimed Pamela was not aged 45, as had been reported.
Wearing spectacles, a white shirt, blue blazer, grey trousers and a tie emblazoned with images of teddy bears, the former bathroom company boss said: "I don't look like a love-rat and my supposed 'toygirl' is 58.
"Janet knew we were getting divorced. She acknowledged she had the decree nisi and that divorce would follow.
"She didn't challenge it at the time or for the next four years and the second wedding was completely open and above board."
His first wife may have been motivated to expose his forgery by bitterness, Jackson suggested.
"If the marriage to Pam is nullified then we will marry again - she has been a great support throughout this."
Challenged by a television reporter after the hearing to explain why he had forged the consent form, Jackson responded: "My explanations were given in court."