Bigamy was for drug money

William Orvin Rivers was sentenced last Friday after pleading guilty to the charge of bigamy.

Justice Priya Levers imposed a term of nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years, on condition he report to the Drug Rehabilitation Court for assessment to join that programme.

She made the order after hearing from Defence Attorney John Furniss that the crime was committed for the purpose of facilitating Rivers’ drug habit.

Mr. Furniss said it was not clear whether he received one lump sum of $500 or $50 every week or month.

Crown Counsel Elisabeth Lees said Rivers had gone through a marriage ceremony with one woman in 1996 and another woman in 2006. He admitted that both were undertaken for money – there was no relationship between him and either woman.

The women, both Jamaicans, had gone through the marriage ceremony with Rivers in order to stay in Cayman. His sole reason for taking part was the payment to him of $500 each time.

Ms Lee said the second woman was assisted to leave the island by immigration authorities. The first woman is currently before the Summary Court on charges that include entering into a fraudulent marriage.

The evil of bigamy is that it is a means of avoiding immigration control, Ms Lees told the court.

Sentences in recent cases have been nine months, she advised, since the Court of Appeal had reviewed a 15-month sentence and reduced it to nine.

Rounding out his remarks on Rivers’ behalf, Mr. Furniss said the defendant had been genuinely married and genuinely divorced years ago.

Now 54, he had been an addict for 38 years. Despite his drug use, he worked consistently. The fact that he needed more money to pay for drugs was an indication of the strength of his habit.

The judge asked Rivers when was the last time he had used drugs. ‘Three days ago,’ he replied.

She asked if he would go to counselling and he agreed. ‘If not, you will go to prison,’ she warned. ‘I’m giving you a chance. Make sure you don’t abuse it.’

Rivers had faced immigration charges in Summary Court pertaining to the fraudulent aspect of the bigamous marriage.

Justice Levers asked if she had the power to deal with them, since they arose from the same set of circumstances.

Ms Lees said there is no provision in the law for the Grand Court to deal with charges that are Summary Court only.

The judge initially declined to sentence Rivers until his Summary Court matters were dealt with or the Crown gave an undertaking not to prosecute the other charges.

After hearing from Senior Crown Counsel Trevor Ward, who was present for another matter, the judge proceeded. However, a note was to be made that she had personally asked for Rivers not to be sentenced in the Summary Court for something she was now sentencing him for.

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