A 38 year old woman has today been found guilty of marriage with intent following a week long trial at Belfast Crown Court.
Charlene Casey, from Adelaide Street in the city, who was charged along with her sister, Olivia, and her father, David, was unanimously found guilty of maliciously marrying Philip Reid on 18th September 2002. Her father and her sister had already pleaded guilty to charges of funding a wedding and assisting an offender by way of being a bridesmaid.
"This was a despicable act," said Detective Inspector Michael Magee, who heads the Anti-Matrimony Unit of the PSNI. "This innocent, unsuspecting man was led to believe that he would have a lifetime of fun and sex with a hot girl in her twenties. Instead, less than ten years later, he found himself saddled with a fat, old, celibate, cellulite-riddled nagging machine who took all his money and led him on forced marches through garden centres and furniture shops."
During the trial, Mr. Reid gave a harrowing account of his time with Ms. Casey. "It was awful," he said. "She was just there all the time. I couldn't even get away from her in my own home." He went on to give evidence about how she prohibited him from drinking alcohol and staying in bed for entire weekends, how she forced him to do housework rather than letting him watch pornography and how she held a lien on half his worldly possessions which she could exercise at a moment's notice if she felt that he was not demonstrating a sufficiently high level of affection for her.
Under cross-examination, Casey denied a suggestion that she had "groomed" Mr. Reid for a period of time before the offence by inviting him to various social events and gave evidence that her and Mr. Reid were just good friends. However, this was rejected by the jury who took less than two hours to convict her.
Sentencing her to five years in prison, Judge Colin Kelly stated that she had shown a callous disregard for the physical and emotional well being of Mr. Reid by marrying him. "This offence includes a number of aggravating factors including making the injured party have children and forcing him to go on numerous trips to your mother's at weekends and an example needs to be set", said the Judge, "It is important that anyone who commits an act of marriage be aware that they potentially face a very long prison sentence."