To cheers, the groom adjusted his silk tie and rose to his feet to give his wedding speech. An eminent psychologist used to public speaking, Dr Oliver Killeen was soon in his stride, as — with tears in his eyes — he lavished praise on his bride. By agreeing to marry him, he said, she had mended a heart broken since the tragic early death of his first wife 20 years earlier.
Few of the guests at the Baptist church hall in Harrow, North London, that day in October 1996 stopped to consider the rather strange way he ended his speech. "I've always loved weddings and hoped I would marry again," he declared, grasping his bride's hand.
"In fact, I even carried a wedding certificate in my pocket." How could anyone have guessed the joke was horribly true. Killeen, then 59, may not have actually carried a blank wedding certificate in his pocket, but he's seen plenty of them in his time — each as worthless as the last.
He was so fond of weddings he had attended 16 of his own. Sadly, just like his marriage to education expert Margaret Curtin, then 43, all but two were bogus. And as if that wasn't extraordinary enough, the university qualifications on which he had built his career as a relationship counsellor and psychologist were false, too.
Oliver Killeen, international fraudster, had simply culled his knowledge from self-help books he'd read while in prison. Boasting a string of qualifications in psychology, his patients included lawyers, doctors and teachers. It was to take years before Margaret discovered the truth — that she was married to one of Britain's most prolific bigamists.
In June 2004, Killeen was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court for three years for bigamy. At his trial, the judge recorded his horror at the 'cruelty and gross deception inflicted on the women in your life'. It's a tale that would be almost comical if it weren’t so tragic.
"Why should I?" asks Killeen. "I gave women what they wanted. If they were foolish enough to marry me within a few weeks of meeting me that was up to them. They should have asked more questions. "I always gave the same little speech at my weddings. It was like a template — but no one ever questioned it. That made me laugh even more.
"Conning women is easy. I studied psychology and behaviour patterns. I presented myself as a dashing, suave sort of guy and women fell for it. "I have a strong personality and an air of total respectability. And, of course, I'm a good lover — that’s the sealing factor."
However, his career as a bigamist did not begin until he was widowed in his 30s. He had married his childhood sweetheart, Mary, when he was 18. They left their native Ireland and moved to London before emigrating to Toronto, where they had eight children.
"I have always liked living on the edge," says Killeen. "So I never had boring nine to five jobs. I got involved in various scams, such as money laundering.
I served time in Canada for 178 fraud convictions. That's when I started studying psychology. I thought it would be useful." And so it proved. Mary died of septicaemia, aged just 38, in 1974. And it was then that Killeen decided to use his undoubted skills to con women.
Needing a new mother for his children, when he was 36 he married the first of what he rather chillingly calls his 'collection of wives'. But Agnes Clooney, a Scottish accountant whom he had met in a bar in Canada, lasted only ten days, before she left saying she couldn't cope with his huge brood.
Next came financier Barbara Daniels, a divorced mother of three. Oliver omitted to tell her he was already married. It was a pattern he was to repeat over and over again. "Getting divorced is costly and time-consuming so I decided not to bother," he says.
"I wasn't free to marry, but so what? Barbara was incredibly beautiful — a real head-turner." Barbara, now 60, remembers Killeen as a cruel and controlling man. "He could be very violent," she says. "I was frightened of him. At first, he was absolutely wonderful — he was funny, amusing and couldn't do enough to please me. He would turn up at my office with huge bunches of flowers. "But when we married, things changed. He wanted to control me.
"I left him countless times, but I always felt so guilty I’d go back. I left after eight years only when I was under such stress my hair started falling out. I was almost totally bald. "I knew for my health I had to go. It took me a long time to recover emotionally and physically."
And so Killeen started adding to his 'collection'. The speed with which he married — each time without divorcing the previous wife — is mind-boggling.
Barbara was followed in 1985 by auburn-haired Teresa Steele, then came Joyce Smith, a bank clerk, followed by divorcee Gail Tuff. Other wives Killeen can’t even name. "There was a huge clutch in the late Eighties," he says, with not the slightest hint of shame. "I get bored very easily and women rapidly reached their sell-by date." However, one wife Killeen does vividly remember is school vice-principal Susan Robertson.
They wed in July 1990, but the marriage ran into trouble when she discovered that her loving new husband had conned her out of £100,000 by persuading her to take out various loans. Killeen fled Canada and ended up in London.
It was only a matter of hours before he started preying on British women. At Heathrow airport, Killeen met Ann Griffin. Within weeks, in May 1992, they were married at Haringey Register Office in North London. "She was a hospital administrator — a very clever woman,’ says Killeen. But that didn't stop her falling into his clutches. "I'm a very powerful personality — once I get into your mind, then I can take control of it."
By the time he met Margaret Curtin in 1995, he had parted from Ann and her successor, Irish widow Kathleen Chambers.
Brazenly, he had reinvented himself as a psychotherapist and relationship counsellor in London, dealing in cases of sex abuse and addictive behaviour.
He was particularly popular thanks to the marriage classes he offered to young couples referred to him by his local Catholic priest.
Styling himself Dr Killeen, he claimed he was American and boasted he had a degree in psychology from prestigious Berkeley College, California, and a doctorate from Toronto University.
"He overwhelmed me with compliments," says university educated Margaret, who worked for the education department of Harrow council. They had met when she came to Killeen for advice in changing her career. "He made me feel I was the most beautiful, accomplished woman to ever walk the earth. He looked into my eyes and instantly I was transformed from a rather plump, ordinary woman into Elizabeth Taylor. "Now I can see that all he was doing was telling me exactly what I wanted to hear. But he appears so completely honest and open it's impossible to doubt him.
"I was at work on Valentine's Day and a huge bouquet appeared. It was half the size of a florist's shop. "I thought I had found this knight in shining armour who was going to rescue me from my ordinary, boring life."
Within weeks, Killeen had proposed. "His passion blew me away," she says. "He knew I was worried my biological clock was ticking. I was 43 and wanted a child. He's so clever that he played on that."
At their wedding, Killeen told everyone he was a widower. Their daughter was born nine months later and, to the outside world, Killeen seemed to be the perfect husband and father.
His private practice was going so well the couple decided to relocate to Waterford, Ireland. "I was hoping to train as an educational psychologist," says Margaret. "Instead, I gave up my dreams to assist him. I believed he was a genuine psychologist — so did everyone he met." Killeen persuaded a local radio station to give him a slot and his gentle, bedside manner was an instant hit with listeners.
Even after he has been exposed as a fraud, former patients pay testimony to the help he offered them. One woman claims the caring Dr Killeen understood her so well he was able to cure the bulimia which had plagued her for more than 30 years.
Perhaps it's no surprise that he was extremely good at his job. Charming, intuitive and with a commanding presence, he was soon so successful he had a full appointments book and was able to charge £7.99 for relaxation tapes. Even now he has no guilt.
"Psychology isn't a true science anyway so I don't feel guilty admitting I don't have a single proper qualification," he says. "I'm self-taught. I read lots of books because I wanted to understand myself. I wanted to know why I could be so impetuous and spontaneous. It just snowballed."
Perhaps most extraordinary of all, Killeen found himself in court — as an expert witness on the effect of sexual abuse on the psychological state of victims. For years, no one ever questioned his qualifications.
"I was even an adviser to the police on issues such as drugs, alcohol and suicide," he says.
"In the five years I practised in Ireland, I treated judges, GPs and other psychiatrists as clients. It was a joke. I never worried that I would be unmasked. These weren't serious crimes — they were just harmless escapades. I spoke persuasively and carried myself with authority. It was easy." Killeen was making £5,000 a week — money he used to indulge his passion for the good things in life.
He adored designer clothes, especially Armani and Versace. Acquaintances noticed his passion for shoes — always burgundy or tan.
The only person beginning to suspect all was not as it should be was Margaret, who by then had been married to him for four years.
"I gradually realised it was impossible to have a relationship with him," she says. "He began to control me — alienating me from my friends and relatives.
"Once when I visited my family, he set a curfew. There was heavy traffic and I couldn't get back in time. When I got home, he went into a frenzy. He was never physically violent, but he intimidated me.
"Arguing was useless. His personality was so powerful. All I could do was agree he was right and capitulate.
"He was earning a lot of money, but it all disappeared. He had incredibly expensive tastes. He persuaded me to take out loans of £80,000 — I'm still paying them off."
Killeen managed to practise for five years, even appearing on TV. But finally, in 2001, a solicitor for the prosecution in a sex abuse case asked to see his qualifications. Knowing he was about to be unmasked, Killeen fled back to London with his family.
"I was devastated," says Margaret, who discovered the truth when the solicitor announced it to the court. "It never occurred to me that he wasn’t genuine."
For their daughter’s sake, she tried to save the marriage. But then came the body blow. A stranger — presumably one of his former wives — rang and told her that her husband was a bigamist.
"I was so ashamed, though it was not my fault," she says. "But I knew I couldn't let him keep hurting women. He's pure evil."
In March 2003, Margaret went to the police. Killeen was arrested on charges of bigamy at Heathrow airport on his way back from Toronto, where he had been visiting his older children.
Typically, he had already started a relationship there with another woman, who had no idea of his past.
At his trial, Killeen admitted three counts of bigamy and was sentenced to three years — one of the longest sentences for this crime. Released early, in June 2005, for good behaviour, he fled to Canada, where he now lives.
"I'm very happy here," he says. "I'm running several girlfriends who know nothing of my past."
Margaret, who was reduced to living in a women's refuge with her daughter because of the debts Killeen had saddled her with, is gradually rebuilding her life. But she can never forgive her 'husband'.
"He cares nothing for anyone else," she says. "We have a daughter and there's a huge hole in her life because she doesn't have a father."
Killeen remains unrepentant. "I hope the last words I ever utter are: 'I do,'" he says. "To me, women are a commodity — pure and simple." Oliver Killeen may be Britain's most married man, but the only person he's capable of loving, it appears, is himself.
When Killeen's life of sham finally caught up with him, he was jailed for three years in 2004 in the UK. He was subsequently deported to Canada, but was released from prison and is now a free man living in Canada. In an unguarded moment, Killeen summed up his philosophy, saying: "The first person I please is me. My attitude is f*** the world before it f***s you." A documentary about Killeen will air in the UK on October 3.