Rockingham marriage celebrant convicted of marrying unconscious, dying woman deregistered

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE Rockingham marriage celebrant convicted of marrying an unconscious, dying woman has been deregistered.

Diane Caratozzolo-Waddington was convicted of failing to solemnise a marriage on July 10, after presiding over the marriage of terminally ill and unconscious Sophia Williams to Malcolm Byrne.

Ms Williams’ family received confirmation of the decision to deregister Caratozzolo-Waddington by the Commonwealth Registrar of Marriage Celebrants last week.

The announcement came just shy of two years after the wedding in which Ms Williams, who was terminally ill with cancer, was married to Mr Byrne while unconscious.

MORE: Rockingham man who married dying, unconscious bride says he would do it all again

The Rockingham Magistrates Court heard earlier this year that Caratozzolo-Waddington indicated to Mr Byrne during the ceremony that he should put a pen in Ms Williams’ hand and sign an ‘X’ for her signature on the marriage certificate.

Ms Williams never regained consciousness and died shortly after the ceremony.

Caratozzolo-Waddington received a penalty equivalent to a good behaviour bond after pleading guilty to the charge of purporting to solemnise a marriage.

In last week’s ruling, the registrar found that the original complaint against the celebrant – that she had failed to solemnise the marriage and later knowingly submitted falsified marriage documents – was well-founded.

The registrar noted the falsifying of documents was most serious as the legal consequences of marriage were significant, and must be strictly adhered to by all authorised celebrants.

They also stated they were satisfied that Ms Williams would not have been capable of signing the certificate or able to acknowledge the wedding vows.

Sophia Williams’ mother said she was relieved by the news.

“We thank all the family and friends that brought this to light and what they have done for Sophia, particularly her son Austin, his father, uncle and myself – along with the rest of the family,” she said.

“Sophia can rest in peace as a Williams and not a Byrne.”

Caratozzolo-Waddington and Mr Byrne were contacted for comment.