London – A husband has been jailed for forging his estranged wife’s signature on divorce papers while she was having chemotherapy in hospital.
Lucy McDonnell-Jones, 41, claims her husband Nicky Jones, 44, wanted to ‘get everything’, including their two houses and joint savings.
She spent nine months in hospital in 2016 receiving life-saving treatment for stage 3 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Although the couple had discussed ending their 18-year marriage, Mrs McDonnell-Jones had not agreed to start divorce proceedings as she wanted to concentrate on her health battle. She had been diagnosed with cancer in her groin, pelvis, back and stomach in 2015.
The couple had separated a year earlier in 2014, when she decided to leave her husband.
After being discharged from hospital, she went to their £250,000 house in Neath, South Wales, where Jones had remained living, to collect some belongings. There she found divorce papers carrying her forged signature.
She also discovered a letter from the family court in Port Talbot.
Court staff told her the divorce was six weeks away from a decree absolute – when the divorce is finalised. Jones, a carpenter, admitted forgery but denied it was an attempt to take advantage of his wife’s illness. Helen Randall, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court: ‘The forgery caused Mrs Jones a lot of distress when she was receiving cancer treatment.
‘She believes he had forged her signature to try and gain from her financially at a time when she was ill.’
Jones had previously arrived at the dental surgery where his wife worked and presented her with divorce paperwork.
But she refused to sign as she had not had time to read it.
Mrs McDonnell-Jones only discovered her husband’s latest bid to divorce her when she found the signed papers after being released from hospital.
She believes it was his attempt to ‘get everything’ they owned in the divorce.
Andrew Evans, defending, said Jones was ‘adamant that part of his motivation was to speed up the progress’.
Mr Evans added: ‘If he had simply waited until his wife was well enough, maybe six or eight months after, she herself would have realised the marriage was over. They had been separated for nearly two years and the divorce would have been uncontested.’ They formally divorced in October 2017.
Judge Peter Heywood sentenced Jones to eight months imprisonment, of which half will be served in custody.
He was also given a two-year restraining order banning him from contacting his ex-wife. After the case, Mrs McDonnell-Jones said: ‘I was thinking I was going to get on with my life, then being told I had cancer turned everything upside down.
‘I was told I had three months to live, and at that point I was having chemotherapy for 12 hours a day.
‘When that didn’t work, they did it for 20 hours a day, and straight into my spine. When I had got all that going on, I didn’t care about the divorce, I didn’t think I was going to make it.
‘When I went back to the house to pick up some stuff, I saw a letter with the name of the court, and my name, and didn’t have a clue.
‘When I called them, they said it was about a divorce. I said I hadn’t even applied for a divorce and they advised me to go to a solicitor.
‘It is nice to be able to move on now. At least I have managed to get through it. I asked the police, what would happen to the case if I die, and they said it would die with me. I knew I would keep going.
‘I think to myself the person I married, I didn’t really know.’
The couple met in a nightclub when she was 18, and married on a beach in the Dominican Republic three years later, in 1998.