I first met J when he came to fit a new door.
I had recently moved house and was feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done. He was extremely polite and well mannered and appeared to be attentive to my specific needs. He visited regularly bringing catalogues to choose doors, glass, etc., and seemed very keen to make sure that I was happy with the work he did.
Although I did feel quite vulnerable having a strange man in the house he soon managed to put me at ease to the extent where I gave him a key so he could come into the house to work when I wasn’t there.
I deliberately did not tell him much about my circumstances though he seemed quite keen to talk about his life, how his mother had died two years previously and how deeply that had effected him ― he even had tears in his eyes when he was telling me.
He talked about his failed marriage and how his wife had been penniless when he met her and how he had taken pity on her and let her move into his house.
He said she had taken advantage of him and not contributed at all financially — now she wanted a divorce and half the house.
He told me he hadn’t had sex with her for nearly three years ― she suddenly stopped wanting intimacy and he didn’t understand why.
My daughter came to stay and while I was out she was drawn into a conversation with J while he was working in the house. She later told me he had started the conversation by saying how he admired me, how hard working and lovely he thought I was.
My daughter then told him about my circumstances ― how I was recovering from breast cancer and on top of that how my husband had died less than a year ago.
From that point on he became quite bold in his advances to me.
He began giving me little gifts ― chocolates, a bottle of Prosecco left in the fridge (because I had mentioned I liked Italy and Prosecco).
On one occasion returning to the house I was a bit taken back when I went into the bathroom and he had placed some glass candle holders and candles around the bath and left a note saying every girl needs a bit of TLC.
I felt a bit uneasy, I thought it was an invasion of my privacy him coming upstairs while I was out.
When I ran it past some girlfriends they thought it was amusing, very romantic and that he definitely had the hots for me ― how I wish I had trusted my first instincts and sent him packing there and then!
Over the next month or so he began to spend more and more time at my house doing jobs. Nothing seemed too much trouble to him and I was glad I had someone I could call upon to do all the jobs that needed doing (even though it was costing me way above the going rate).
I justified it as he did such a good job and I thought I could trust him.
He eventually asked me out on a proper date ― he wined and dined me, gave me gifts of jewelry — not expensive things but trinkets.
I was bowled over, I really thought the guy was in love with me.
From the first date he was there day and night ― I never invited him to stay he just seemed to be there all the time. He told me he had never known love like it, how we were soul mates,how extraordinary it was that we both liked the same things, the same music, the same food, the same everything.
He was a very attentive lover, so much so that I thought it rather odd that he seemed so focused on my pleasure and not his own.
Within two weeks of our first date he had taken me away for a long romantic weekend break.
When we got back he seems to just assume that he could move in.
He talked a lot about what could be done with the house and I ended up paying quite a lot of money for materials up front. During a three month period he managed to get me to part with almost £4,000 plus he was living rent free at my house and not making any contribution to running cost or groceries.
I started to become suspicious when the work I had paid for was not progressing. When I challenged him (gently) he would make loads of excuses.
During this time I had to go into hospital for an operation to have my breast reconstructed. He promised to take me and come to give me a lift home. On the morning of the operation he took me to the hospital and dropped me off at the door, he announced that he couldn’t pick me after all as he had an appointment.
I was shocked and very upsets by his coldness and lack of compassion. When I returned home after the operation he had gone taking all of his things with him. I couldn’t believe it I was devastated.
I kept ringing him but he wouldn’t answer his phone. He eventually texted me and said he had left because he thought I wasn’t making him welcome and he felt like a ‘visitor’.
I ended up reassuring him that I really did love him and what I had I was willing to share with him (I just thought he was insecure).
To cut a long story short ― I finally got fed up with his excuses, recognized that I was being manipulated into paying for things that didn’t materialize and asked him if he had actually got any intention of doing any of the work.
He even got me to part with money for windows a few days after my mother died. He put pressure on me saying it was such a good, time limited deal and he would do it while I was away sorting out the funeral arrangements (of course he didn’t).
When I returned, he had completely cleared out every trace that he had been there.
Not only had he taken over £4,000 of my money, I was left with two massive holes in my roof, exposed electric cables, no heating etc, etc. I have been quoted £10,000 to put right the mess.
I have since found out that his mother had disinherited him and his daughter would not have anything to do with him!
Everything he had told me was a complete pack of lies.
The signs were all there ― I thought it was very odd that I never met any of his friends or family.
His expression of love and devotion were too much too soon. I was aware on some level that his main aim was to get himself firmly installed under my roof.
I am just very, very glad that I challenged him and he disappeared ― it could have been a lot worse.
The worst thing about the whole thing is that it has completely destroyed my faith in everyone. I feel like I shall never be able to trust anyone ever again. He was so absolutely credible and took everyone in ― everyone thought he was crazy about me.
In the few communications I have had with him since, it is very clear that he never had any feelings for me whatsoever and he was purely interested in me for my money. I feel unclean and totally used.