A woman has described how she found out her husband had married someone else after seeing pictures of the wedding online.
Hayley Brown, 36, from Southport, married once-divorced Mark Rowlands, 47, in 2012 before they split years later – but they remained legally wed.
The mother-of-three was left stunned when a friend sent her photographs of Mark on his wedding day to Kerry Adams, which took place at a Holiday Inn in June 2021.
She reported the marriage to the police and Rowlands pleaded guilty to bigamy at Chester Magistrates on the day of trial. He was fined £456 with £346 in prosecution costs and a victim surcharge.
In her first interview since the discovery, Hayley said: ‘I feel like Mark has got away with telling lies for far too long. Now he might think twice.’
Hayley and Rowlands met in 2010 in Southport, after he had dated one of her friends.
She said: ‘Mark was a real charmer, he had the gift of the gab. It was a whirlwind romance and we moved in together after about a month.’
She fell pregnant with their first child in 2012 and they were married soon after.
Hayley said: ‘I had a big white dress and all the trimmings and it was a great day. I was head over heels in love.’
But after she fell pregnant with their second child, eight-and-a-half years ago, Hayley suspected he was cheating.
She said: ‘By now, I was realising Mark was not always truthful with me. I decided I couldn’t take it any more.’
Their son was born soon after, but Rowlands did not come to the birth and met him only once, briefly.
He lost contact with Hayley and their children, apart from for maintenance payments.
Hayley says: ‘I struggled financially after Mark left. I had a toddler and a new baby and a lot of debts. I had to move house and start again.
‘I did ask him for a divorce, but at that time, I couldn’t afford it.
‘I heard nothing more. There was no solicitor letter, as he said in court. That just wasn’t true. I received nothing.’
Rowlands married his third wife Kerry the day after Valentine’s Day 2020 – with the couple’s marriage certificate wrongly declaring his previous marriage as ‘dissolved’.
Hayley found out about the wedding that same month, when her friend forwarded her a social media post from the Holiday Inn hotel which contained a photo of Rowlands’s wedding to Kerry.
She says: ‘My jaw hit the floor. He was still married to me. I couldn’t believe it.
‘It felt funny seeing him marry someone else, but I was over him by now. Even so, I knew this was wrong and I had to report him.
‘The photos were on the hotel’s page, not Mark’s page, which showed he was probably trying to keep it quiet.’
‘I felt very torn about it, but it was illegal and so I went to the police.’
After his bigamy was uncovered, the ‘anxious’ 47-year-old suffered a heart attack through stress, Chester Magistrates’ Court later heard.
Hayley said: ‘I reported Mark because what he did was wrong. It is not a nice way to treat people.’
During the court case, it emerged Rowlands had divorced his first wife in 2004, then married Hayley at a seaside hotel in 2012 before they split a few years later.
Hayley revealed: ‘I was at first told I would need to give evidence, but Mark pleaded guilty just before the trial began, so I was able to go home.
‘The judge told him to get a divorce, so at least now I will get what I want.
‘In court, he said he’d instructed a firm of solicitors about our divorce, but I knew nothing about that.
‘I think that is just another one of his lies. He can’t help himself.
‘Hopefully, now he has been publicly shamed, he will learn his lesson.’
NHS worker Kerry, who is also thought to have worked as a deputy manager in a care home, watched the case from the public gallery to support her husband.
In the past, bigamy was considered such a serious offence in England that from 1604 a man or woman could be sentenced to death for the crime.
Since Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, however, the offence has been punishable by up to seven years in prison and or a fine.
According to reports, police figures from last year show that there were 599 cases of bigamy recorded across all police forces in England and Wales over the preceding ten-year period.
However, in the five years up until last year, only 18 per cent of completed investigations led to alleged bigamists being taken to court and punished – the low rate being explained by evidential issues, victims unwilling to support a prosecution, or the individual cases considered as not being in the public interest.