Wife 'turned a blind eye' to bigamy

By Abby Gillies, Edward Gay

Rodney Peach. Photo / Supplied
Rodney Peach. Photo / Supplied

On December 17 last year Rodney Peach married his partner in front of her family and friends, while still married to his unsuspecting wife of 28 years.

Two days later the 52-year-old south Auckland bigamist walked into the Howick police station and confessed to police what he had done.

Last month Peach pleaded guilty to bigamy and using a forged document, and today he escaped prison when he was sentenced at Manukau District Court to 120 hours' community work and nine months supervision.

He told police that Ms Oeti knew of his marriage breakdown and that he had not left his wife for the legally required two years.

"The defendant stated that his marriage had been over in the eyes of God ... ,'' the police summary said.

"He explained that the circumstances of his problem as being due somewhat to the family pressure placed on Ms Oeti and her family's religious convictions,'' the summary said.

According to court documents viewed by APNZ, Peach and his wife separated early last year after 28 years of marriage. He and Ms Oeti also been in an on-and-off relationship since they met at work in 2006.

Peach, a property developer, told police he used his brother's details when he had applied for a Particulars of Marriage document. The document is needed by couples who want to marry, and is signed by the bride and groom at their wedding.

Once Peach received the document in his brother's name, he used a computer to put his own details on the document, according to the police summary of facts.

He used his home printer to print off a new document and told police he later threw the printer away in the inorganic waste collection.

Peach also told police that he used a friend's divorce certificate to make up a Family Court dissolution of marriage document.

Judge John Moses said today if it had not been for Peach's guilty plea then he would have imposed a more "punitive sentence''.

He said he took into account that Ms Oeti knew about Peach's first marriage and had "turned a blind-eye''.

"It seems to me, through reading her statement, that she knew it was a short time for a divorce and didn't care.''

He said as well as receiving letters from Peach's family, the judge had also heard from Mrs Tania Peach.

"She has indicated in her letter that you were a supportive husband throughout the course of your marriage to her.''

He said a psychologist report showed Peach was under a "good deal of personal stress''.

Judge Moses said Peach had made some "poor decisions''.

"To your credit you have come forward and acknowledged that.''

He agreed with Crown prosecutor Kingi Snelgar that getting the marriage particulars had shown "a degree of persistence, premeditation and some degree of sophistication''.

Outside court Peach told waiting reporters that they were wasting their time.

"There's going to be no comment.''

The sentence was a relief for his Australian-based daughter Sasha, 19, who said it would give the family some closure after a stressful time.

"I think it's very good because he doesn't deserve to go to jail.

"I just hope it all blows over very soon so we can get on with things - we've all be under so much stress,'' she said.

Since discovering her father had remarried she acknowledged he had made some bad decisions, but said she would continue to support him.

Her mother, Tania, previously told APNZ she had "no idea''about the charges against her husband of bigamy and using a forged document.

They lived in New Zealand during their marriage and have two adult children, who are now both based in Australia.

Now based in Queensland, she and Peach separated early last year.

Like her daughter, she has voiced support for her husband throughout the court process, but has said divorce was on the cards.

"I really support Rod in this. I know it probably sounds really strange, but I do because he's really a good man. I know it's wrong in the eyes of the law, but there are deeper issues involved,'' she said previously.

The Department of Internal Affairs registers marriages and issues marriage certificates.

A spokesman said the department sees few cases of bigamy but when it does occur, the police are notified.

He said when couples get married, one person has to fill out a notice of intended marriage and sign a statutory declaration that they are able to get married.

"If they make a false statement they can be prosecuted under the Crimes Act.''

He said registrars depend on the honesty of people's statements and double-check information against the Department's records.

Recorded bigamy complaints to police in the last decade:

2000: 5

2001: 3

2002: 2

2003: 2

2004: 5

2005: 2

2006: 6

2007: 1

2008: 1

2009: 2

2010: 1

2011: Not yet available.

- APNZ

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