THERE were three women, two sham marriages and two prison terms, with Reginald Cooper at the centre of it.

The drama did not end there - the second victim collapsed in court and had to be carried from the witness box.

But the woman, Edith Gaiger, recovered and minutes later she was to resume in the bigamy trial at Hampshire assizes as Cooper’s complex love life unfolded .

The saga began in 1922 when Cooper met and married Daisy Hobbs at Southampton’s register office but their happiness was as smooth as a pot-holed road.

They lived off and on together for seven years, the union producing one child, but she eventually walked out on him because he continually failed to support her.

Cooper then formed an alliance with another woman and he ‘married’ her, which led him to appearing before Hampshire Assizes in 1929 when he received three months.

But the following year, Cooper, a failed grocer in St Denys, Southampton. was back to his old ways.

He met Gaiger, a domestic servant from Totton, and deceived her into believing he was single.

At the end of June, he asked her to marry him, which she consent to do with the knowledge of her parents, and within a month they were married at Eling Church.

So bigamy charge number two followed in 1931.

“At no time before did he tell me he had been previously married,” she told the court. “But three weeks after the marriage he said to me ‘I have something to tell you. I am married. i could not believe it.”

But a few days later he told her that he was divorced and he had been to marry her.

“I believed what he said and we lived together until December.”

Then, as result of what she had been told, she reported him to the police.

R F Baylord, defending, said Cooper thought that under the terms of the divorce he was free to marry, and speaking from the dock, Cooper said he was sorry he had broken the law.

“I had broken it once and had no wish to break it again.”

However prosecutor Walter Lloyd reminded the judge, Mr Justice Swift: “ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

But his plea for leniency was firmly rejected.

“You know that is quite untrue. You told her those lies and you indulged in that deception in order that you might get possession of her. Having gone through this form of marriage, you started to neglect her and physically abused her.

“Your conduct has been cruel. There is nothing to be said in your favour. I cannot imagine conduct worse. You will be kept in prison for nine calendar months.”