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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK
'Bigamous' lesbian is sentenced
Suzanne Mitchell
Mitchell was ordered to carry out 100 hours of community service
A woman who entered into a civil partnership with her lesbian partner while she was still married has been ordered to carry out community service.

Suzanne Mitchell, of Wingfield Gardens, Shrewsbury, pleaded guilty to breaching the 2004 Civil Partnerships Act.

The 30-year-old admitted making a false statement at her union with Caroline Beddows before her marriage to Charles Mitchell had been annulled.

Suzanne Mitchell was also given a suspended prison sentence on Monday.

Mitchell has since split with her female partner and has been reunited with her husband.

Judge Robin Onions said jailing the mother-of-five, who is pregnant, would have had a damaging effect on her children, who he described as the "only injured parties" in the case.

'Cruelty and deception'

Judge Onions said Mitchell had repeatedly lied in pursuit of the civil partnership and added her offence was one of "cruelty and deception".

Mitchell was given an eight-month prison sentence suspended for two years.

She was also ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid community service and was made the subject of a two-year supervision order.

The case is believed to be the first of its kind since the new law on civil partnerships was introduced.

Judge Onions said he had used past bigamy cases as a guide when considering Mitchell's sentence.

Bus stop meeting

The court heard that Mitchell initially claimed she did not understand the seriousness of the civil partnership ceremony and claimed to have thought it was a type of "blessing" for her friendship.

Mark Linkins, for the prosecution, told the court that Mitchell and Miss Beddows became friends after meeting at a bus stop when they were both pregnant.

In September 2005 Miss Beddows and her baby moved into the Mitchells' family home.

Mr Linkins said that in February 2006 Mitchell and Miss Beddows went through with the civil partnership ceremony at Shrewsbury register office, where Mitchell falsely declared she was single.

After the hearing, Mitchell, two of whose children live with different fathers, said: "I just want to go home and see my kids."


SEE ALSO
Lesbian admits 'marriage' charge
09 Jul 07 |  Shropshire
Lesbian accused over 'marriage'
23 May 07 |  Shropshire

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