Yve Gibney, an NHS nurse from Merseyside, had been happily married for 17 years when her husband began behaving strangely. Here she explains how she turned detective – and made the awful discovery that he had a second life.
We met in Lagos in Nigeria in 1995 – it was a Friday night at a social club, around a pool table. I’d gone out to work as a nursing officer and he’d gone out to work for a construction company.
It was instant attraction.
I gave him my phone number but I gave him the wrong number mistakenly, so I didn’t see or hear from him for several weeks. Then we bumped into each other again and from that moment on we were pretty inseparable – and he did say he’d tried to telephone.
It moved very quickly, we got married within three months. I think it’s just a feeling you get. We’d both been in long-term relationships previously and it just seemed so right. It just flowed and seemed like the natural thing to do.
Our son was born two years after we got married. But I also had an older son and when he was about to take his GCSEs I returned to the UK to help him.
Even then, I thought we had a happy marriage.
Our relationship worked because it suited us. It wasn’t maybe a traditional marriage in the sense where you live together all the time but it very much suited us.
We were still in constant contact. We used to text all day every day. Friends always said that we probably communicated more than people who lived together.
But in 2011 he went to Oman to work, while I stayed in the UK, and his behaviour began to change.
He cited the pressures of work, which meant he couldn’t come home as regularly as he normally did. So he would come back in short bursts, for short visits, as opposed to coming for two or three weeks at a time.
It didn’t make me suspicious but it affected the relationship.
He told me he was feeling depressed and that he was struggling living in Oman and one of the reasons for the depression was that he wasn’t getting home as frequently.
I now realise he always played the depression card because that would enable him space, sympathy… maybe to get away with things I wouldn’t have been so tolerant about.
He was scheduled to come home for Christmas 2012. On 22 December when he was due home, he rang me to say, “Don’t come to the airport, I’m not coming, I’m so depressed, I’ve seen a counsellor who has advised I don’t come home.”
He finally arrived in the January and point-blank refused to discuss his depression – and that fuelled a massive argument. That’s when he left the house. Other than in court, that was the last time we ever saw him.
Image copyrightS & T BONNAR
Image captionYve and Maurice Gibney on their wedding day
He’d hired a car because he came home at short notice and drove off in that car. I presumed he’d come back, but he didn’t and he didn’t answer his phone.
I was really concerned so I rang the car hire company and made enquiries. The lady said he had returned the car.
Then she said: “I remember him from Christmas when he hired the other car.” So I played along and she said that at that point he’d hired the most expensive car in the fleet, and this time he asked for the cheapest.
Then she said, “I can help you, it seems like he’s registered it to an address in the West Midlands.” So she gave me the address because I’d expressed concern about his mental health.
Without her I doubt I would ever have been able to discover the bigamy – I’ve never had the opportunity to say thank you to her.
I looked the address up and rang the phone number. It went to voicemail.
With the help of some friends, who have been invaluable assistant detectives, we found out that the man who lived at that address worked for a company with offices in Muscat.
I let myself think, “OK these must be friends from Oman, he must have come back to the UK, didn’t feel able to come home because of depression, and gone to stay with them.”
I thought, “He’s so depressed, I don’t think he’d have the mental capacity to deal with an affair and keep all that secret.” So I let it go.
I eventually made contact with Maurice and I thought, if you can walk away from the family home without saying goodbye to your son, who was in the house, then you don’t belong here as part of this family. So I started divorce proceedings.
I had also seen on Facebook in April 2013 a picture of his sisters and their daughters in Muscat, and one of his sisters was wearing a fascinator. It was one of those niggling doubts and it stayed with me.
I said to a friend, “You don’t think he’s got married, do you?” and I knew how absurd it sounded. My friends laughed and said I was being ridiculous.
I didn’t know the truth for another year.
I decided to ring that number again, and I pretended to be from the car hire company. Then I said, “Could you tell me your name and your relationship to him?”
The man said, “I’m his brother-in-law.”
So I rang back and I was me then, and I gave my name and a woman answered.
I said, “I don’t understand why this man said he was Maurice’s brother-in-law.” And she said, “Because he’s married to my sister.”
I remember shaking so violently when she said that. I had to put my other hand over the hand holding the phone, to keep the phone still.
I said, “Is this the same Maurice Gibney from Liverpool?” and I described him, and she said yes, and said, “Who are you?”
I said, “I’m his wife.” And there was literally just silence at the other end of the phone.
I don’t know how I was processing it. There was a massive element of disbelief. How could he have married someone else, while he was married to me?
Somehow, as a woman and as a mother, you carry on.
Of course at this point I didn’t know anything about the relationship or how long they’d been married, so I informed my solicitor.
Maurice had told his family that we’d been divorced for some time, and I was this crazy individual who was acting maliciously now I’d found out he was remarrying.
Some days later it was the middle of the night, I wasn’t sleeping, I thought, “I’ve got to find out more about this.”
I went through Facebook. I found the woman’s page and clicked on it. Her profile picture was her, in her wedding dress, kissing my husband. That’s when I could see they had married in March 2013, two months after he’d been home.
Seeing it was just… I still can’t express how I felt. I was so shocked. I was looking at it and I knew it was him.
We went to court. I asked for the judge to consider this bigamy and to postpone the hearing, and the judge refused, and said: “If you think he’s committed bigamy, go to the police and report him.” That’s exactly what I did the next day.
Once he was sentenced for bigamy, he got six months in prison suspended for two years.
His bigamous wife was very much a victim but in a different way. He had presented himself as a divorced man when they met.
I wrote her a very short polite letter and sent her documents from the court hearing and I said, “I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve entered into a bigamous marriage with my husband.” I said, “I’m sure this is very difficult for you to read, as it is for me to write.”
He’s a master of his craft, of deception and deceit and manipulation and I believe he probably convinced her that I was the crazy ex-wife.
I think part of it is the need for men like him to manipulate and control. He probably really got off on that.
Why would he plan to destroy his family? His son hasn’t seen his father for six years.
I don’t know why he didn’t take the simple option of just saying, “I’m going to divorce you,” and why he went down a path of destruction and deliberately hurting his family. I will never know.
In the final divorce judgement, District Judge Coaker cites 56 cases of fraud to the courts that she knows about and she sums them up as a snapshot of what is probably much more dishonesty.
He failed to give full and frank disclosure about bank accounts. We discovered he’d withheld information about an inheritance. The bank statements didn’t even belong to him, it wasn’t even his bank account.
He lied about his salary, he lied about his remuneration, he lied repeatedly.
It enabled me to go back to court, to prove the original settlement was made on fraudulent information and it allowed the judge to award me his share of the family home.
There is a system to allow justice in family law but there’s no mechanism to enforce that. All the cases of fraud, lying to the court – it goes unpunished. The courts take no action and that’s very, very wrong.
For this second case, I incurred £58,000 debt. I’m a nurse working for the NHS. I don’t have £58,000. All of my legal fees have been on credit cards. District Judge Coaker ruled that he had to pay those costs within four days. He didn’t pay. He still hasn’t paid.
I feel grateful that he is out of our lives. This is a man that I loved and the children loved as a father, but he just betrayed us on every level.
I don’t allow myself to feel anything towards him. I would be a liar if I said I don’t despise him, but it’s not a thought I keep in my head. I let it go.
I’ve met someone who gets on really well with my sons and that’s important. The person I’ve met is really lovely, and makes me happy.