Man sentenced after being found guilty of polygamy due to his 24 wives and 149 children

Man sentenced after being found guilty of polygamy due to his 24 wives and 149 children

For a lot of people, the idea of settling down with a partner and having children is an overwhelming one. For others, however, it's a lifelong dream.

But not everyone fits into one of those two categories.

Take Winston Blackmore, for instance, who - apparently discontent with just having one wife - is married to 24 women at the same time, and has 149 children between all of them.

Blackmore, the Canadian leader of a polygamous Mormon fundamentalist group, is famous for being the patriarch of such a huge family. However, unfortunately for him, his domestic set-up isn't at all legal.

As a result, the 62-year-old was sentenced to 150 hours of community service this week for the crime of "practising polygamy", and was also ordered to spend six months under house arrest. During that time, Blackmore will be permitted to leave his home in order to attend work and see to any "medical emergencies", but otherwise must remain on his property.

Another man, James Oler, was tried and found guilty of the comparatively lesser crime of having only five wives. He was sentenced to 75 hours community service.

Despite his criminal conviction, though, Blackmore has claimed that nothing will stop him from following his religion and continuing to live with his two dozen spouses. "He's made it clear that no sentence will deter him from practising his faith," said Justice Sheri Ann Donegan. "The concept of remorse is foreign to him in this context."

As a committed Mormon, Blackmore has a long history of polygamy. His own father, Ray Blackmore, had six wives and 31 children, with Winston being the fifth oldest.

However, his life with the church hasn't always run smoothly. At one point, he was excommunicated and was spurred on to create his own denomination - the Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc. What's more, he upset a lot of people with his polygamous ways, as some of his wives were reportedly underage when he married them.

Reports show that 10 of the fundamentalist's wives were only 17 years old when Blackmore tied the knot with them, three were 16 years of age, and one bride was only 15. The legal age of marriage is 18 in Canada - unless the person has their parents' consent - in which case it's 16.

Under the current Canadian law, the maximum sentence for being married to more than one person at a time is five years imprisonment. However, as cases of the offence are so rare, the judge found it difficult to follow a precedent in sentencing Blackmore and Oler.

In fact, there have only ever been two other cases of criminal polygamy in Canada, and those took place more than a century ago in 1988 and 1906 respectively.

Blackmore's lawyer actually asked the judge to consider all possible sentences, including a complete dismissal of charges, but the lenient sentence was eventually reached after Justice Donegan took into account that both men have lived otherwise law-abiding lives, and do a lot of good for their communities.

Blackmore is still married to all 24 of his wives.