Roderick Sangster, 58, who is also a former policeman, was told to face his sentence after a warrant was issued for his arrest.
He married Janet Wallace in 2004 while still married to his second wife, Jill Sangster, and left both women in thousands of pounds of debt.
Yesterday, after a two-day trial at Warwick Crown Court, he was also convicted of forgery after faking Mrs Wallace’s signature to secure a £10,000 loan. Sangster denied both charges but failed to attend the trial.
The verdict prompted shouts of joy from the public gallery, where the women were sitting with Sangster’s first wife, Frances Tait, whom he divorced in 1996.
Judge Martin Coates, who quoted Oscar Wilde’s line “bigamy is having one wife too many — monogamy is the same”, said it was the first case of bigamy he had dealt with in his 35 years’ experience. Sentencing was adjourned to December 5 to give police time to find Sangster.
The court was told that he divorced Ms Tait, his wife of 25 years and mother to their four children, after leaving her for Jill Jackson. They married in Florida in August 1996, but he left her six years later. Mrs Sangster, who lives in Perth, had to declare herself bankrupt after learning that her estranged husband had run up debts of more than £30,000.
She wept in court as she told the jury that “she didn’t realise the extent of the debt” while they were together.
Sangster had begun divorce proceedings but changed his mind, the court was told, and wrote to Mrs Sangster in 2003 telling her that he would not go ahead. Instead, the former Metropolitan policeman began internet dating while working at an hotel in Evesham, Worcestershire, and met Mrs Wallace, who was recovering from cancer. They married in July 2004 and moved to Scotland, where Sangster became a Church of Scotland minister and also joined Grampian Police.
In February last year, on the day that he was supposed to receive £107,500 from what later transpired to be a non-existent book deal, Sangster disappeared.
Mrs Wallace then discovered that he had forged her signature on papers for a £10,000 loan from Northern Rock, taken £1,250 from their joint account and retrieved £6,500 in mortgage over-payments. She also found letters showing debts of £55,000.
Speaking outside court, Mrs Sangster, 49, said the verdicts were “just the start” and that it was vital that her husband was found. “Put him on the front page of all the newspapers. We need to track him down,” she said.
Mrs Wallace, 55, added: “I just feel delighted I’ve come through this all. I would be over the moon if and when he is finally brought to justice.”
Detective Sergeant Cawail Wong, of Warwickshire Police, said: “If Mr Sangster is reading about the case then I would ask him to hand himself in.”
By Fran Yeoman of the TimesOnline