30 Jun 2010

Undertaker, minister accused of falsifying marriage

5:45 am on 30 June 2010

The trial of a funeral director and a minister charged with falsifying a marriage has begun in Christchurch.

The charges have been laid by the Department of Internal Affairs against undertaker Geoffrey Hall and Reverend Maurice Gray of St Stephens Church in Christchurch.

They are jointly charged with pretending to be a marriage celebrant and solemnising the marriage of Jeanette Hardey and Philip Ellis at Kaiapoi in 2006, and of making a false declaration under the Marriage Act.

The Crown says the couple wanted their friend, Mr Hall, to marry them, but the Department of Internal Affairs told them this wasn't possible as he was not a registered marriage celebrant.

It was agreed Reverend Gray, a registered marriage celebrant, would oversee the marriage. But the couple says Reverend Gray had nothing to do with the ceremony.

The defence says Reverend Gray was present, and therefore the marriage was solemnised.

The couple parted ways shortly after the wedding, and Ms Hardey has since died.