Ramsgate NHS physiotherapist Alexander Sarte jailed for bigamy
by Paul Hooper
A respected physiotherapist who led a double life with two
wives 7,000 miles apart has been jailed for eight months.
NHS worker Alexander Sarte was highly regarded in his work
caring for the elderly at the Kent and Canterbury
But the 45-year-old, from Ramsgate, was exposed
as a bigamist when his wife and mother of their two children Donna
McGowan decided to end their stormy seven-year marriage.
Canterbury Crown Court heard silver-tongued Sarte played the
doting husband in Kent while still married to Naemi Gomez in his
He always smoothed over questions about his previous life when
speaking to his second wife.
But when she started divorce proceedings officials in the
Philippines told her her husband had married Ms Gomez in 1998 - and
they were still legally wed.
Shocked Donna reported Sarte to police who charged him with
Sarte, of Hillcrest Drive, admitted the offence and was jailed
for eight months. His visa has now been withdrawn.
He claimed to be a single man when he successfully applied
for a work visa after travelling to the UK in 2003.
"There has to be a whiff that this might have been a marriage of convenience to allow him to remain in the UK..." – Martin Bowyer, defending
The same year he met Donna when they were both working as health
care workers at Carlton Lodge, in Broadstairs.
The pair married in 2005 – after his physiotherapy degree helped
him get NHS posts caring for the elderly at the Kent and Canterbury
Donna would later tell police Sarte was "controlling" and
treated her as if she was one of the children during their
tempestuous seven-year romance.
Jim Harvey, prosecuting, said: "Donna was aware from the
outset that he had had children with a lady in the Philippines with
the understanding they had never been married.
"Sarte and Donna eventually separated in September 2012 and she
started to file for divorce.
"However, having taken steps to initiate that process she
ascertained from the Office of Civil Registrar General in the
Philippines that he had married a Naemi Gomez on June 15
"There was no documentary evidence to suggest that that was a
marriage which had been annulled or that they had divorced. She
felt that she had been deceived."
Sarte worked at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital
Donna became concerned because their two children were living
with him and she feared he might spirit them out of the country,
the court heard.
Sarte then began sending her "begging messages" not to report
his double-dealings to police.
In a statement to police she claimed she had been "emotionally
abused by the defendant throughout their relationship" and had been
left "a shell of her former self".
Donna said her "husband" had controlled their finances and she
felt she was being treated "like one of the children" and began
suffering depression and had started to self-harm.
Sarte, who had given police cautions in 2008 for assaults of his
wife and mother-in-law, admitted he had married Ms Gomez but
discovered she had cheated on him and so walked out of their
He told police he had married Donna "for love, not to get a
resident's visa" – although he accepted they had married just a few
weeks before his work visa ran out.
Alexander Sarte was
jailed at Canterbury Crown Court
Martin Bowyer, defending, said: "There has to be a whiff
that this might have been a marriage of convenience to allow him to
remain in the UK.
"But this marriage lasted seven years and they have two
children, now aged four and seven and although he accepts it wasn't
always a happy marriage it was nonetheless a marriage. He doesn't
accept everything that Donna has said."
Mr Bowyer said that the Philippines is a Catholic country where
divorces are "extremely difficult" to get than in the UK and
carried "considerable cultural shame".
He added: "Since coming to the UK he has always worked within
the NHS service caring for the elderly and is an intelligent
Judge Nigel Van Der Bijl told Sarte he had been
"deceitful and dishonest" and had caused significant upset to his
victim and their two children.
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