A former soldier carried out a “cruel deception” when he married one woman despite already being wed to another.

Jason Hayter, 48, was discovered to have two wives simultaneously when his daughter from one marriage messaged his other wife on Facebook asking what her connection to him was.

Sara Hayter, who he married at a wedding ceremony at a Norfolk registry office in April 2016, subsequently contacted police after learning he had never divorced Tracey Larkcombe, who he wed in 2010.

The former guardsman was told his almost five year “double life” had devastated the lives of two families including his five children.  

Judge Katharine Moore, sitting at Norwich Magistrates’ Court, said: “You hid your previous marriage and lied during the ceremony of marriage to Sarah Hayter, rendering meaningless what should have been meaningful."

Appearing at court in a wheelchair and with his current partner, Hayter, of Kirby Cross near Frinton-on-Sea in Essex, had previously pleaded guilty to bigamy.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Jason Hayter illegally married at a Norfolk registry office in 2016 despite never getting divorcedJason Hayter illegally married at a Norfolk registry office in 2016 despite never getting divorced (Image: Newsquest)

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said his complicated love life had seen him “living a double and even triple life at various stages”.

“He carried out quite a lot of lying and a lot of toing and froing geographically,” he added. 

His two wives had described Hayter going missing for lengthy periods, usually on the pretext of army training or due to his mental health. 

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Charles Judge, mitigating, said his 23-year military career had included active service in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan but leaving the army in 2014 had caused an “emotional rollercoaster”.

He had retrained as a paramedic but was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD and suffered a stroke. 

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Judge Katharine Moore told Hayter he had carried out a 'cruel deception'Judge Katharine Moore told Hayter he had carried out a 'cruel deception' (Image: Newsquest)

 “There is deep regret on his behalf, particularly towards the children,” said Mr Judge. “This has been a very salutary lesson to him.”

Sentencing him to eight weeks in prison, suspended for a year, and a curfew order, Judge Moore said he had “comprehensively deceived” those he purported to love.

"You perpetrated a cruel deception, one that strikes at the heart of marriage, eroded trust and devastated families," she said.