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Bigamist vows fifth husband will be last

PUBLISHED: 23:36 26 May 2004 | UPDATED: 04:54 02 March 2010

LIKE lemmings drawn to the edge of a cliff, suitors queued up to marry Amileaynna Carmichael.

Time after time, after time, after time, she married her admirers, achieving a bigamous hat-trick which ended in remorse and a prison sentence.

LIKE lemmings drawn to the edge of a cliff, suitors queued up to marry Amileaynna Carmichael.

Time after time, after time, after time, she married her admirers, achieving a bigamous hat-trick which ended in remorse and a prison sentence.

Today her fiancé, Ipswich computer engineer Ross Beech, declared the moment he becomes her fifth husband he will be the luckiest man in the world.

Mr Beech said: "Amileannya is still technically married to her first husband, but we will marry as soon as the divorce comes through.

"When that happens I will be the luckiest bloke alive. I know I am following in the footsteps of men who have ended up very hurt, but I am going into this with my eyes open.

"I totally believe that the experiences of the last few months have changed her. She's got a brilliant, organised mind. Unfortunately it's one that's led her to make mistakes. But she has learned from those mistakes and I believe her now when she says she loves me too much too hurt me.

"She told me all about her past when we fell for each other. I want to be her next husband and she promises me that I will be the only one she ever has again."

As she toys with her diamond and black sapphire engagement ring, the two 25-year-olds, of Hervey Street, Ipswich, seem over the moon to be getting married.

However in January, Judge Peter Thompson branded the former model a "very predatory female" as he jailed her for bigamy.

In less than six years, she had married four times - but never bothered to get a divorce from any of them.

Today, just out of prison, she is looking forward to a new life with Mr Beech.

Ms Carmichael, now a volunteer counsellor at a youth drugs project, says she never meant to hurt anyone, but admits: "There was something not right with me and the way I treated men and relationships. I had attention-seeking problems. I wasn't just clingy in relationships - I was like a barnacle.

"Whenever it didn't work, I'd move on to the next one and never stopped long enough to wonder what the hell I was doing.

"I think it stems back to when my parents split up. I was 12 and I felt used. My mother didn't want me to live with her. So if somebody wanted to marry me, it felt nice to be wanted.

"I can see now that I wasn't well. I'd lost all sense of reality and right and wrong."

Her first and only legal marriage was to soldier Paul Rigby at York register office in December 1996, 11 days after her 18th birthday.

"The ceremony was soulless and without meaning," she said. "I knew I was making a mistake, but my pride wouldn't let me back down. It was teenage rebellion. Paul was my childhood sweetheart, but my dad didn't like him."

Three months later the marriage, which triggered a rift between Ms Carmichael and her parents, was over.

"I was going to Leeds University and he was in the Army," she said. "I didn't see myself as an army wife and we drifted apart."

Shortly afterwards, two officers from the Royal Ulster Constabulary told her Rigby had been charged for his part in the grisly murder of a 17-year-old girl. He was given a two-and-a-half-year sentence for helping to dispose of the body while a friend, got life.

Back in Leeds, she moved on to husband No 2 - but failed to tell bank worker Sean Cunningham, 33 that she was not divorced.

"I got pregnant by Sean," she said. "Then I had a miscarriage, but we decided to get married anyway." They wed in February 1999 at the register office in Leeds, where she used her grandmother's maiden name, Lecount.

Asked why she did not divorce Paul first, she says: "I felt guilty for hurting people. But once you've done it once, trying to undo the paperwork and sort it all out gets more and more difficult.

"When the registrar said: 'Has anyone got any objections to these two getting married?' my heart was in my mouth."

"I felt very guilty about lying to Sean, and a few weeks after the wedding I told him the truth. He was upset, but once he knew I wasn't going to leave him he was OK about it.

But the marriage soon began to fail and they split up.

Her next husband was web designer Chris Barrett, 25, whom she met on a bus. They married in 2000.

"We were living together after just four days," Ms Carmichael said. "I didn't love him. I was just in lust.

"But next thing I knew, I was back at Leeds' register office. I'd already done it twice, so I knew there was no cross-checking between the births and marriages register."

But the marriage petered out after a few weeks and he reported her to the police. They let her off with a caution.

Ms Carmichael then applied for a job in Ipswich to get away - only to find husband No 4, train guard James Matthews, on the journey south.

She said: "Coffee led to dinner, dinner led to staying overnight. As a joke, I text him: 'Marry me.' And he text back: 'Yes'." Six weeks later, on March 5, 2002, they were married at St Thomas' Church, Ipswich.

"On the morning of the wedding I wanted to back out," she says. "I said: 'Let's just live together.' But James was a Christian and said we couldn't' live together if we weren't married.

"When I told James the truth he said we'd been married in church under the eyes of God, and as long as I didn't leave him he'd keep my secret. And at first our marriage was fine."

Then she met current fiancé Ross through a Dungeons and Dragons role-playing club. Soon she moved in with him. James later went to the police and Ms Carmichael was arrested. "It wasn't until I got to the magistrates' court that I realised how serious it could be," she said.

"I thought I'd get probation or community service. But the duty solicitor told me I was looking at a maximum sentence of seven years. For the first time I was really scared. I didn't like the way I was described in court as a predatory female. I know I've hurt people, but I didn't wake up each morning thinking: 'Whose life can I mess with today?' I'm truly sorry for all the pain I know I've caused."

She served six weeks in jail, but Mr Beech stood by her. "Ross has always known everything and proposed even before my arrest," she said. "It did occur to me that marriage was the kiss of death to any relationship I'd been in and maybe we should just settle for being engaged, but I've been getting help from a psychotherapist and I think I might be ready for marriage.

"They're treating my condition as manic depression and I'm on medication, which has really helped." But what makes her think marriage No 5 will be any different?

"This is the longest relationship I've been in," she says. "It will finally be the fairytale wedding I've always dreamed of. But I won't be wearing white. I'm not that much of a hypocrite."

N What do you think of Ms Carmichael's plans for a fifth wedding? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk. Alternatively telephone The Evening Star newsdesk on 01473 324789.

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