Groom spends wedding night in jail

A groom spent his wedding night in jail instead of the arms of his beloved after a provincial court judge issued a warrant for his arrest last week because of his failure to pay about $7,000 in child maintenance.

Shai Topaz and Claire Fresneda

planned to be married on Beddis Beach on Saltspring Island on Saturday afternoon. But as Claire waited in her wedding dress for Topaz to arrive at the ceremony, he was surrounded by RCMP officers, whisked away in his linen suit to the Saltspring detachment, then taken by police boat to the Victoria police station.

“I begged them to allow me to at least see my bride and to have some compassion,” said Topaz, a 47-yearold father of two who works for an international

communications

company. “Instead, I was taken

into custody and my bride was not even informed.”

At the time he was taken into custody, Topaz had four warrants out for his arrest. Two were unendorsed warrants, which means the judge wanted him to appear before her. Two were warrants of committal, meaning he had to either pay money owed or spend time in jail.

“All required the police to bring Mr. Topaz before the courts without delay,” explained RCMP spokesman Darren Lagan. “The judge’s instructions on these particular warrants was very clear – locate Mr. Topaz, arrest and detain him and bring him before the court.”

Still, it was very difficult to make the decision to arrest Topaz an hour before his wedding and difficult for the officers who made the arrest, said Sgt. George Jenkins. “Obviously, when you’re interrupting a wedding, it wasn’t comfortable.”

Lawyer Tom Bulmer stepped in to assist the distraught couple after receiving a phone call from one of the guests. On Sunday morning, Topaz had a telebail hearing before a justice of the peace. Topaz said he did not know about the warrants. By that time, the wedding guests had passed the hat and $1,400 owed on the committal warrants were paid, said Bulmer.