A WOMAN who tricked a wealthy businessman into marrying her when she was already married to two other men went on to con him out of £200,000, a court was told.
Godsgift Tettegah, described as a “strikingly attractive woman”, pursued demolition company boss John Thurlby after they met in 2007, and he quickly fell head over heels for her.
Lincoln Crown Court was told that Mr Thurlby, who was 61 at the time, began dating Tettegah, who was 26 years his junior, and they married in July 2008.
At the time of the wedding Tettegah was already married to her previous husband Roger Long, whom she wed in Sleaford four years earlier, as well as to a man in her native Ghana who she introduced to Mr Thurlby as her brother.
Errol Ballentyne, prosecuting, said “She claimed to be a wealthy woman and claimed to be divorced. The relationship caused problems for John Thurlby with his family because they saw Tettegah for what she turned out to be - a fraud. They considered she was simply after his money. Ultimately he was seduced into parting with a significant amount of cash. He refers to a total amount of £200,000.
“He has been left devastated. It has ruined his life. He has built up his own demolition business and worked hard so that he has something to pass on to his children. He can’t retire now as he intended to and will have to work for the rest of his life.
“In the initial stages of the relationship she was seeing how much money he had. Cynically, having discovered his capital, she set out to see how much money she could obtain.”
The businessman became a director of Tettegah’s hair extensions company in Grantham, investing £65,000 which he has never seen since and was then fleeced out of even more money through a series of elaborate lies.
He handed over £10,000 after being told that Tettegah’s ‘brother’ Biko was in financial difficulties and needed the cash to save his home from repossession. He also paid for a car for Biko.
£6,000 went to her father to buy land for development and over £100,000 more went on building a house. When John Thurlby eventually visited he found just two rooms were habitable and was then asked for even more money to complete the project.
Tettegah announced at one point that she wanted to start a family and was given money to attend a private artificial insemination clinic.
Mr Ballentyne said: “It transpired that also was a fraud. The clinic she claimed she was going to was actually a clinic for people with sexually transmitted diseases rather than for artificial insemination.
“There were various trips to Ghana and on most of them money was given to Biko who was said to be her brother when the reality was that she may have been married to him.”
John Thurlby finally discovered the truth when he was left at their home in Ghana while Tettegah and Biko went out for the day.
He found her mobile and scrolled through the text messages.
The businessman kept quiet about his discovery until they were back in England in January 2010 and then confronted her.
Mr Thurlby subsequently discovered a visa application for Biko to enter the UK claiming he was married to Tettegah and then had a 12 year old daughter. He went to see his solicitor and police were called in.
Detectives later discovered her original UK husband Roger Long, who is in his 60s, was still paying out hundreds of pounds a month to repay a loan he took out for her.
Tettegah, 39, of The Belfry, Grantham, admitted bigamy and a further charge of perverting the course of justice by writing to magistrates aiming to discredit him and get the case thrown out. She was jailed for 16 months.
Judge Michael Heath told her “You are a strikingly attractive but very devious woman. Any man who becomes personally involved in you does so at his peril. At all times your relationship with him was financially motivated. You wanted to get as much money out of him as you could and you told him a pack of lies.”
Stuart Lody, defending, said Tettegah had suffered a difficult time emotionally as a result of the death of her mother and her father’s ill health.
“One must acknowledge that Mr Thurlby has been grievously injured both financially and emotionally. My only real point in mitigation is that she has pleaded guilty.”