Page last updated at 15:26 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008

Bigamist jailed for three years

Roderick Sangster
Roderick Sangster left both women with massive debts

A former church minister and policeman has been jailed for three years for bigamy and forgery.

Roderick Sangster, 58, was convicted in his absence at Warwick Crown Court after going on the run.

The jury heard he married Janet Pollard, with whom he lived in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, while still married to Jill Sangster in 2004.

Sangster, who left both women heavily in debt, was sentenced after giving himself up earlier this week.

Originally from Perth, Scotland, he worked as a police officer for the Metropolitan and Grampian forces before qualifying as a Church of Scotland minister at St Andrews.

Internet dating

Sangster had been married for 25 years to Frances Tait, of Portlethen, Aberdeenshire, with whom he had had four children.

He divorced her and married Mrs Sangster in Florida on 6 August 1996.

He left her in 2002 and began divorce proceedings, but they were not completed.

Bigamy cases are rare... because the public has a greater regard for the institution and obligations of marriage than you do
Judge Marten Coates

Sangster then found a job at a hotel in Evesham, Worcestershire, and started internet dating Ms Pollard, who was recovering from cancer.

He told her he had divorced his wife and moved in with her.

Mrs Sangster, to whom he is still legally married, was forced to declare herself bankrupt after discovering her husband had run up a debt of 30,000.

Ms Pollard was left with a bill for 55,000 after he ran away last February on the day he claimed he was due to be paid in a fictitious 107,500 book deal.

Jill Sangster and Janet Pollard
Sangster married Janet Pollard (right) while still married to Jill Sangster

The women found out about one another after Mrs Sangster, of Perth, contacted Ms Pollard when she was chasing up her husband's debts.

He was also convicted in his absence of forging Ms Pollard's signature to obtain a 10,000 loan from Northern Rock.

Judge Marten Coates told him: "You left your first wife, debts had risen to impossible levels.

"You left your second wife bankrupt and your third partner almost destitute.

"Your motives, I am sure, were dishonest from the start.

"Bigamy cases are rare. I think they are rare because the public has a greater regard for the institution and obligations of marriage than you do."

'Finally over'

Sangster was also sentenced to 12 months for forgery and two months for failing to attend his trail, both to run concurrently.

The trial heard he targeted financially secure women, took their money and left them in debt before moving on.

Outside court, a statement was read out by Det Sgt Cawail Wong on behalf of the women.

He said: "We are pleased with the outcome at court and that the case is finally over.

"The ladies have had closure with regards to Roderick Sangster and are now looking forward to moving on with their lives."

Sangster's barrister Adam Western told the court his client wanted to apologise to the three women.

Mr Western said: "He asks and wants to tell the court through me that he regrets the hurt and embarrassment he has caused these women, in particular Janet."

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Ex-minister convicted of bigamy
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