A bigamist who wed a wealthy businessman while married to two other men has been jailed after fleecing him out of £200,000.
Godsgift Tettegah, 39, pursued demolition company boss John Thurlby despite still being married to another Englishman who, like Mr Thurlby, was 26 years her senior.
A court heard that Mr Thurlby, now 65, married the defendant - described as ‘strikingly attractive’ by the judge - in 2008.But while Tettegah posed as a wealthy, divorced woman, she was still wed to her previous husband, Roger Long.
That couple married in 2004, when Tettegah is thought to have already been wed to a fellow Ghanaian called Biko, whom she would later try to pass off as her brother.
Tettegah, who is understood to have come to the UK in 1999, was running her own hair extension business in Grantham, Lincolnshire, when she met divorced father-of-three Mr Thurlby in 2007.
Prosecutor Errol Ballentyne said she soon asked Mr Thurlby for a £40,000 loan to source hair extensions from China. When he refused, she suggested he invested in the business and become a director. Mr Thurlby gave her more than £65,000, which he never saw again.
Lincoln Crown Court heard he also handed over £10,000 after being told Tettegah’s ‘brother’, Biko, needed it to save his home from repossession.
He then paid for a car for Biko, while £6,000 went to Tettegah’s father to buy land for development. Around £100,000 also went on building the couple a four-bedroom house to stay in on trips to her homeland, but it was never completed.
Mr Ballentyne said: ‘Mr Thurlby was seduced into parting with a significant amount of cash. He refers to a total amount of £200,000. He can’t retire now as he intended to and will have to work for the rest of his life.’
Mr Ballentyne added that it was clear ‘some form of relationship was continuing’ between Tettegah and Biko on her regular visits to Ghana.
Mr Thurlby confronted his wife in January 2010, after he had discovered paperwork indicating she had been married to Biko.
She claimed the documents were fake, but Mr Thurlby then discovered a visa application for Biko to enter the UK claiming he was married to Tettegah and that they had a 12-year-old daughter.
Mr Long, 65, who has long-term memory problems caused by a motorbike accident when he was 18, married Tettegah in October 2004.The court heard that when police began investigating Tettegah, they discovered Mr Long was still paying hundreds of pounds a month to repay a £19,000 loan he took out to help her set up the hair accessories business.
It is understood that a bigamy charge in relation to that marriage was dropped because police could not obtain proof from Ghana that Tettegah was married to Biko.
Stuart Lody, defending, said the only mitigation he could offer was that Tettegah had pleaded guilty.
Tettegah also admitted a further charge of perverting the course of justice by writing to magistrates aiming to discredit Mr Thurlby. She was jailed for 16 months.
Sentencing on Friday, Judge Michael Heath told her: ‘You are a strikingly attractive but very devious woman.’
Mr Thurlby said: ‘Godsgift was a captivating and comely person. I was flattered when she showed an interest in me.’
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