(c) THE AUSTRALIAN
by PAIGE TAYLOR
August 7, 2017
A marriage celebrant could be struck off after failing to get an “I do” from an unconscious bride, but proceeding anyway, reportedly saying: “Oh, she can’t answer but I know she wanted to get married when I saw her before.”
Diane Caratozzolo-Waddington, from Warnbro on Perth’s southern fringe, married the dying woman and her partner on October 7, 2015.
According to Community Newspapers’ Weekend Courier, she has pleaded guilty at the Rockingham Magistrates Court to a charge of purporting to solemnise a marriage and was placed on a recognisance order.
During the case it was revealed that the bride was in the final stages of cancer, never regained consciousness, and died shortly after the wedding.
Yesterday, Anthony Burke, the president of the Australian Federation of Civil Celebrants, told The Australian he had never before known a case in which a celebrant married a couple while either the bride or the groom was unconscious.
Ms Caratozzolo-Waddington is one of his organisation’s almost 2000 members and he said he would wait for the outcome of an Attorney-General’s Department review, which could recommend that the celebrant be struck off.
Before Ms Caratozzolo-Waddington’s guilty plea, Mr Burke sent a note to celebrants reminding them of their obligations.
Ms Caratozzolo-Waddington declined to talk to The Australian yesterday about the circumstances ofthe ceremony. In a text message, she said she was not in a position to comment “at this point in time”.
According to the Weekend Courier, she also did not speak during her appearance in the Rockingham Magistrates Court last week, though her lawyer told the court she had always tried her best in performing more than 300 previous wedding ceremonies and had no prior criminal history.
A commonwealth prosecutor told the court that on the day of the wedding between the man and the unconscious woman, Ms Caratozzolo-Waddington went to the Rockingham house the couple shared, the Weekend Courier reported. The court heard the woman was unconscious when the celebrant arrived and did not regain consciousness at any stage throughout the ceremony. “She was unable to articulate vows and she was unable to indicate or acknowledge she understood,” the prosecutor reportedly said. “The accused asked the male if he took the female as his lawful wedded wife and he said ‘I do’.
“At this point she (Caratozzolo-Waddington) stopped and said, ‘Oh, she can’t answer but I know she wanted to get married when I saw her before’.”
Journalist Gabrielle Jeffrey wrote that, when it was time to sign the marriage certificate, Ms Caratozzolo Waddington “indicated to the man to put a pen in the unconscious woman’s hand and sign an ‘X’ for her signature”.
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