Grab a cuppa and we’ll go from the beginning …

This is a long story so if you are just looking for bare bones no emotion no story facts, you can find them here:

2005 – Stability

I had been married to Garry for 4 years and we had a beautiful baby girl. Life was hard. Lucie had been born blind and I had struggled to find a way to cope with that. I was so proud of her and what she achieved every day, marvelled at the way she just got on with it all but I was scared for her future and scared that I didn’t know how to help her. I had trained in Braille to support her, and I worked with some of the professionals to learn mobility and life skills but this was huge. Garry tried but academically he couldn’t keep up and he was short tempered and would get frustrated very easily.

Jessica was my daughter from a previous relationship. We were all a close family, Jessica and Garry were very close and she spoke about feeling like he was more of a father to her than her biological father. She would see Howard, her biological father from time to time, but she had no real interest in him other than what money he would spend on her.

Jessica adored Lucie, they were inseperable. Happy settled family life, doing every day family things. Nothing special.

Jessica’s Brownie Unit had struggled to keep open due to not having volunteers so I undertook my qualifications and became a leader. Jessica was transferring from Brownies to Guides and there wasn’t a place at a local unit for her so I undertook the leadership of another unit so she had a place to go. At the same time Lucie wanted somewhere to go so I undertook the leadership of a rainbow unit so she had somewhere too.

Lucie struggled with friendships. Not because of her, but because her friends parents were scared to have her round their houses in case she hurt herself. I understood that but it still hurt when everyone else was having play dates and she wasn’t invited. But thats people and thats life and you have to live with that.

A girl unknown to us asked to join the Guide Unit. Claire, my assistant leader told me she had been a member before but she had been kicked out for causing trouble but I wasn’t phased. I let her join. This was Candi. She would be regularly disruptive within the unit, and had trouble remaining with her friendship group.  She would regularly need to be removed from the areas in which she was working due to disputes with the other girls.  Prior to Christmas I remember noticing that she was self-harming and had heard several girls talking about it.  At the Christmas party she wouldn’t get involved with any of the other girls and she refused to take off a big bulky coat.  I spoke to the whole group of girls she would hang around with and told them I was there to help if I could.  Three girls came forward for self-harming, of which Candi was one of them.

I took advice from my Area Co-ordinator, Catherine and agreed to offer the girls support if they needed it.  I told the girls that they could talk to me confidentially but that if they disclosed anything within those conversations that would constitute a child protection concern then I would have to advise the relevant people so that they could be helped.  None of the girls chose to confide in me.

2006 – Happy 12th Birthday Jess

Jessica’s birthday was approaching and she wanted a party. She invited the whole Guide Unit. Candi hadn’t been able to attend as she was on a school trip to Spain.  Jessica wasn’t particularly upset as she wasn’t really friends with Candi or the girls Candi would hang around with, but Candi claimed she felt bad about not being able to go and asked to have a sleepover with Jessica when she returned from the school trip.  Two other girls, Candi’s friends Becca and Jenny were due to join the sleep-over but they cancelled at the last minute.

Candi got very annoyed at this and caused arguments within the unit over it. She said that she was upset with Becca and Jenny for letting Jess down. Certainly, within the Guide Unit sessions there was no communication between the girls and Candi would follow Jessica around and always want to be on her table or her team.  Candi and Jessica appeared to become good friends.  Candi began to sleepover at the house and accompanied us on family days out.  Dawn, Candi’s mother would bring Candi to the house and would often stop for a cup of tea and a chat before leaving again. Suddenly the girls were best friends.

Everywhere we went as a family, Candi seemed to be with us.

The Guide Unit was attending a county wide camp and both Candi and Jessica were booked to go.  Jenny’s mother telephoned me and advised that Candi had been bullying Jenny at school and asked me to ensure that Jenny and Candi were not in the same tent together.  She did not know why the girls had fallen out, but Jenny was upset and didn’t want to go on the camp unless the leaders could make sure she wasn’t with Candi.  As the leaders were not organising the camp, we were only able to rearrange sleeping accommodation and advised Jenny’s mum that we would do that.  On arrival at the camp we found that Jenny’s mum had been so concerned that she had telephoned the organisers and Candi’s activities had been changed to ensure that the girls were not together.  Candi was angry at this and went on to cause issues on the camp the whole weekend.  Claire was also on the camp and Candi made her a target of her pranks and her anger and made the camp very uncomfortable for all concerned.  Candi seemed to be very pleased with her behaviour.

As Candi and Jessica continued in their friendship, she began to tell the family about her life, stating many incidents of neglect.  She stated that she was self-harming and was depressed, and on many occasions was suicidal. I was concerned but had heard nothing of concern. I decided to approach Dawn.  Dawn reported that it was just Candi looking for attention and the stories of not being fed and having no dinner were false.  Dawn advised that both herself and Martyn, Candi’s father worked long hours and were not often at home but that arrangements were always made for Candi.  Dawn advised that she often struggled with Candi who was very headstrong and needed to get her own way.  Candi began messaging me, often quite late into the night. It quickly progressed into continual messaging throughout the day and night.  Garry, my husband would get annoyed at this as it began to disrupt our family life. 

Candi would always appear to be upset in the messages and would need someone to talk to.

During these conversations I asked why Candi and Jenny had fallen out, why the girls couldn’t all be friends.  Candi’s response was that she had been in a sexual relationship with Jenny and a lad at the same time.  I think it was Jenny’s brother but cannot really remember.  It had caused friction between the girls.  Jenny had then got involved with an older lad which had obviously upset Candi, who was then causing rows.

A few days after Candi’s 14th birthday in July, Candi messaged and said she needed someone to talk to.  It was late at night and Garry and I were in bed but I agreed to offer support.  Candi began to message of being abused by Martyn, claiming physical abuse.  She was unspecific but was threatening to run away.  I tried to persuade Candi to call the police, but she refused to speak with anyone.  At one point she claimed her father had walked into her room.  I asked why he had just walked into her room and she claimed that he done it regularly.  I thought it was odd, but Candi passed it off saying that he used the bathroom which was situated off her bedroom.  Eventually I persuaded Candi to stay in the family home and to speak to someone at school the next morning. 

Early the next morning, I received a phone call from Candi to say she had run away and got the train to Chichester, could I collect her.  Garry and I both went to collect Candi from the train station.  Candi said she had left the house that morning to go to school and caught a train (no ticket) to get to Chichester.  Garry and I listened to Candi’s story in the car before taking Candi back to the family home and ringing social services.

Candi claimed that her father had been sexually abusing her since the age of 3 or 4, and that he would regularly physically abuse her.  She claimed that Martyn had seen her conversation on the computer the night before and had beat her that night.  She was very specific about select incidents of both physical and sexual abuse, identifying scars that had been left by Martyn’s abuse and claiming that she would regularly drink to block out the sexual abuse that she was being subjected to.  She was physically shaking and crying.  She made it very clear that in the early years the abuse would be in the form of Martyn touching her intimately and taking her hand and putting it on his penis, but that in later years the abuse would be penetrative sex.  She recounted incidents where Martyn would drag her up the stairs or throw her down the stairs, and incidents where Martyn would throw plates at Dawn.  She maintained that Dawn knew about the abuse, and had on occasion watched whilst it took place.  She stated that she was such a naughty child that she was told this was her punishment. 

Social services arranged an appointment for Candi to see a social worker, which at Candi’s request I accompanied her to.  When asked if she would speak to the social worker on her own, Candi refused and asked for me to stay in the room.  Candi repeated the allegations to the social worker, and I then agreed that Candi could stay with the family whilst the investigation was taking place.  Social services investigated the allegations and asked Candi to attend a meeting where the school were also present.  Candi requested that I was able to attend the meeting to support her, I had no part to play in the meeting and so sat quietly.  Candi was asked to confront her parents and tell the meeting of the allegations, which she did.  Candi’s parents denied all knowledge of any abuse and the school noted they had not been aware of any issues.  Candi advised at the meeting she had been using alcohol to block out the abuse, and that she had been having sex with local lads to get the money for alcohol.  The school reported they had no knowledge of this either.  They advised they had been attempting to provide counselling services for Candi, but she had refused to engage.

Candi has since admitted to me on a few occasions that her allegations were completely false. She has admitted that the only way she could secure a place in my family was to make the authorities think it wasn’t safe for her to be with her birth family.  Throughout the years there has been several conversations surrounding these allegations as Candi would use the claim of childhood parental sexual abuse to obtain privileged treatment or garner sympathy from people.  At these times I would question her, and she would inform me that the allegations were true, she had no reason to lie however it would only be another few months before the subject would come up again and she would admit it was lies.  I still don’t know the actual truth, but I believe there are times when Candi herself believes in her mind that it happened.

I can’t remember which order events happened, but I am aware of a meeting in which Candi was asked to attend social services offices.  The social worker advised that they had made arrangements to look after Candi and asked me to leave, which I did.  Within an hour I received a phone call from Candi to say that she had run away, and could I collect her.  Again, Garry and I both went to collect Candi and notified social services as to what had happened.  I recall maybe 3 or 4 occasions that social services attempted to reunite Candi with her parents and that on each occasion Candi would run away, and on each occasion, I contacted social services to advise that Candi was back with me.  Candi’s story would become more elaborate each time social services attempted to reunite her with her parents.  She would be able to tell me more of the alleged physical and sexual assaults that she had suffered but when I raised these with social services, who in turn asked Candi to verify what I was saying she either wouldn’t talk or would only give very basic details. She explained that no one except me believed her, that I was the only one she could trust and therefore she could talk to me about it. 

She explained that she didn’t want to waste her time explaining it to social services she just wanted to get her parents out of her life and get over it.

During this time Candi refused to go to school and demanded to change schools.  She also refused contact with any of her family or friends.  Candi wouldn’t explain to anyone why she had left home but expected people to support her decision.  When this was not the case, she would cut them out of her life. This applied to friends she had grown up with, friends she went to school with as well as her family.  She had a new family now, Jessica and Lucie became her sisters and I was mum. She accepted Garry as her foster father – she had to as without his consent she couldn’t live in the house but she wouldn’t overly interact with him.

Social Services allocated a social worker, Brenda who would regularly visit the house to check everything was as it should be.  Candi had left her parents with no belongings and so I provided clothing and personal effects for her.  Effectively I helped her to rebuild her life. Brenda continually checked she had everything she needed and inspected her bedroom (shared with Jessica) and whether I was facilitating contact with her parents.  Candi advised Brenda that she didn’t want any contact with her parents, but I was advised to keep the lines of communication open.

 I maintained a basic contact with Candi’s parents, but Candi would lose her temper and run off when she knew I had been in contact with either of them.  I had to leave the house and walk up and down the street to have a conversation with Martyn on many occasions.  I found out that Candi would later check my mobile to see who I had been speaking with, and she would then lose her temper with me and an argument would follow.  Candi would become aggressive in these arguments, hitting walls and doors and self-harming.  She would hit herself and bang her head against walls and doors.

Candi was expected to attend school at the school her parents had enrolled her in.  There was two maybe three weeks of the school year left, and Candi was told by Brenda that she had to attend.  Candi refused to attend, and despite me sending her in the morning she would catch a train (no ticket) to wherever she wanted to go and not arrive at school.  I was unable to take her to school due to my commitments to Lucie and Jessica.  Brenda and the Education Welfare Officer both became involved due to Candi’s continued refusal to attend school and she told them she wouldn’t go until they moved her school placement.  Only Candi’s parents had the authority to do that and so Candi told the EWO that she was prepared for her parents to be fined and imprisoned if they did not allow her to change school placement.  It was at this point that Dawn gave permission for Candi to move school placement, register for NHS services, agreed to a private fostering agreement and gave me Locus Parentis to be able to sign for medical treatment, school notes etc.

In early August 2006, I was leading a guide camp which the whole family would be at.  Candi had alienated most of the girls in the unit and refused to share a tent with anyone.  The Guides were in tents of fours or sixes and Candi just point blank refused to go into any tent.  The normal procedure would be to phone a parent and have the child removed from the camp, but I was in the role of Candi’s parent.  Girlguiding safeguarding rules are that no child is allowed to camp on their own in a tent and Candi decided she wanted a room in my tent.  She used the arguments with the other girls and the excuse of not feeling safe due to Martyn, and quoted GGUK rules to achieve this.  The only option available was for Garry & Lucie to share a tent which would free up a room in my family tent for Candi to stay in. 

During the camp Candi then had some sort of breakdown and believed Martyn was on his way to collect her.  Candi ran off into the woods and would not calm down and the other leaders felt that it was not wise for Candi to remain on the camp.  I was Candi’s guardian at the time and therefore the decision was made by the all the leaders that I should also leave the camp to attend to Candi’s needs.  Candi felt that she needed to be away from anywhere Martyn could find her, she claimed she didn’t feel safe and therefore she asked if we could get away for a couple of days to give her some peace to get herself back together.  I took us to a campsite in Poole for the weekend.  Candi relished being away and would regularly phone Jessica and Lucie to boast about being special and having a special weekend with me, but she would sneak out during the night at the club house hanging around smoking and drinking with some boys that she met whilst I remained in the tent. 

She would tell me about it the next morning but without staying awake and watching her all night there was nothing I could do.

It was on the Guide Camp mentioned above that Candi’s aggressive streak first turned on me.  Within the first couple of days Candi lashed out & kicked me when I disciplined her.  I had defended myself by stepping back and putting a hand out to stop her foot from contact with me and it caught my hand and dislocated my finger.

In my more recent conversations with Dawn, she has revealed that Candi was a violent and aggressive child from early years.  Dawn claimed that when Candi didn’t get her own way she would punch & kick Dawn leaving bruises which Dawn’s work colleagues would assume was domestic abuse from Martyn.

Candi’s actions on the Guide camp meant I wasn’t able to lead either of the units anymore and they both closed down temporarily. Lucie and Jessica no longer had any activities outside of school.

Later in August 2006, the family went on holiday to Western France.  During this trip, Candi became very possessive over me.  She would refuse to allow me to walk alongside Garry and would insist on sitting next to me in restaurants and cafés.  She also became very obsessive over Lucie, refusing to allow Jessica to assist her at holiday clubs or in the swimming pool. 

Candi again claimed that she didn’t feel safe because of the alleged sexual abuse from Martyn.  She claimed we were staying on a busy camp site and tents can’t be locked so anyone could walk in during the night to attack her.  Following much argument and discussion Candi got her way and I agreed she could share with me and Garry would take her room.

Candi again showed an aggressive streak in an argument with Garry where she again became physical.  Garry is considerably stronger than she was and in restraining her from attacking him she gained an injury to her arm.  As a qualified first aider I attended to the injury and put her arm in a sling until we could get medical attention, aiming for seeing the GP when we returned to England. Candi used this injury to ensure that she had my full attention whilst on the holiday, and to make me feel sorry for her as she was unable to do anything.  However, when this then caused further issues with Garry the injury disappeared, and she was absolutely fine again.

Unfortunately, the car broke down on the return journey which then became delayed by a week.  Garry was also not well at this time and whilst I became embroiled in trying to get the car and our belongings as well as ourselves back to England and trying to negotiate non-English speaking services and insurances, Candi chose to step into my role as mother of the family and decided she would look after Jessica and Lucie.  Ultimately, we had to remain in France a further week on a rural camp site, and again I had to organise late starts at schools, money transfers, pet care etc so Candi continued to try to be mum to the younger girls.

Upon returning to England, Candi was due to start school at a new school.  It was revealed that she had been asking her parents to change her school due to the issues with Jenny, but they had refused.  I had secured Candi a place at the same secondary school that Jessica attended, but this had not been her first choice of placement.  Lucie was also due to start infant school, so I would take Jessica and Candi to school every morning, and then take Lucie to school on the way back.  Candi didn’t want to attend that school and would therefore promptly walk back out of the school once registration had passed.

My mum visited the house to spend time with all of us as a family.  Candi clearly felt pushed out during the visit as my mum wouldn’t accept Candi as my daughter.  Candi was clearly trying to find a role in the house as an adult, she was the eldest child and by now I was arguing with Garry over Candi’s behaviour.  Candi didn’t like my mums’ attitude to her and began showing off – did my mum like the decorating she had done? No? Well then F off and don’t come back. Candi caused several arguments with my mum, both between me & her and between my brothers & sisters and my mum, who eventually left.  My mum and I didn’t have a particularly good or close relationship, and by this time Candi had been placed with Garry and I as our daughter so when Candi asked me to choose between my mum & her, and my mum could only speak in a derogatory manner about Candi – calling her a gold digger and trouble, said she was lying about the sexual abuse, only out for what she could get etc – there was no hesitation in supporting Candi.

Candi was very unstable at that time and would regularly run off being returned to my care by the Police.  Brenda was monitoring Candi both at home and at school. She regularly inspected the house to ensure Candi’s needs were being catered to and continued to meet with Candi monthly although she refused to engage. Social Services were struggling to make progress with her as she would refuse to see them and was often verbally abusive to them.

Jessica and Candi would regularly fight, frequently involving A&E trips.  Jessica had been a ‘mummy’s girl’ and was not used to being involved in rough & tumble situations.  It was more often than not Jessica who complained of something and I would take her to hospital.  Candi would not allow us to go on our own and always accompanied us.  She would spend the time berating Jessica for being a ‘baby’ and for complaining that she was hurt when there was nothing really wrong with her.  The hospital would generally confirm that it was just a bump or a scratch or a bruise and we would all go home again.  Candi would use this time to get me on her side, having spent 4 or 5 hours in A&E for a bruise this was not hard to do as I was generally aggravated at wasting time.

I began working in a school with a SEN child and Candi ensured that her school allowed her to partake in work experience at that school once a week rather than studying.  As she would not attend school it was felt that it was better for her to be actively doing something that she would engage in rather than being left to wander the streets.  Candi also ensured that the two weeks work experience in year 10 was spent in Lucie’s school and persuaded them to allow her to support Lucie in afterschool clubs. During the meetings with Candi’s school setting up these routines and gaining permissions, the pastoral manager kept suggesting Candi attend counselling sessions.  They had in-school counselling services and put in place a card system so that Candi could leave lessons and go to their support services if she needed to and made appointments for Candi to see their counsellors, but she refused to take part in any of it.

Candi tried to take an adult role in the house as the oldest child and would tell the younger sisters she was looking after them.  Garry and I were parents to all 3 girls, with the other children of the family visiting.  I became a youth worker and ran two youth clubs in the area to try to encourage friendships and socialisation for both Candi and Jessica, but whilst Jessica was happily attending and knew many of the other members, Candi would want to take over and run the events as an adult role. 

Even in college it was noted that Candi would not settle, was often absent and struggled to find and maintain friendships.  

I opened a dance club to provide a social activity for Lucie.  This involved running a weekly session at the local village hall.  Candi took an adult role in the club wanting to teach the children whilst Jessica took the role of working one to one with those children who were struggling.  I took on the role of administration and overseeing safety, planning sessions and choreographing simple routines.

Whilst there was nothing out of the ordinary at this time, Candi was very clingy and went everywhere I went, did everything I did. Candi wanted to learn to cook, to clean, to sew, to knit, to play card games & chess etc.  Jessica already knew these things and seemed to be happy to take a back seat whilst I ‘mothered’ Candi and taught her life skills.  I put Candi’s behaviour down to not having had the family environment before, not being able to relate to having sisters or a parent who had been interested in spending time with her etc.

Candi would constantly monitor my phone activity. If my phone alerted me to a text or email, she would automatically read it. Her reasoning was that it could be business, as in the dance company. Candi also refused to give out her telephone number to anyone other than Jessica, Garry or me to ensure that her parents weren’t able to make contact with her and had to message my phone.  She would reason that any message could be for her.  She would often be on my phone when I walked into the room etc.  She would just pick it up and start reading it.  She claimed that if I had nothing to hide then there was no reason that she couldn’t look at it. It was part of a trust issue she had, and if she felt she couldn’t trust me she would run away.

At some point during this time, Candi confided in both Jessica and I that she had been in a sexual relationship with two other girls before she had moved into the family home.  She maintained that she had been in a fully sexual relationship with a girl called Gemma, and that she had experimented with a girl called Tammy.  This was in addition to the previous claim that she had been in a fully sexual relationship with Jenny.  There was never any indication of whether any of this was true or not and it seemed irrelevant at the time, but I feel that it may be relevant now within the whole story.

2007 – Entanglement

Candi chose to learn braille so she could support Lucie. In general, it takes 2 years to learn braille, but Candi made a point of learning it in 6 months and then told Garry and Jessica they didn’t need to continue to learn it, something they was both struggling with.  I continued to practice braille due to the child I was working with, and Candi worked alongside me in the evenings whilst I made resources for my pupil.

Candi became more involved with Lucie, supporting her in school and in afterschool clubs effectively pushing Jessica out.  Jessica struggled to get to afterschool clubs due to her own school and so it made logical sense for Candi to help, and with the addition of the braille she was learning the school began to rely on her more and more.  Candi stopped Jessica from supporting Lucie.

Candi decided that as I had a rabbit, she needed one also, so we bought a new rabbit.  Against my wishes she mated the rabbits and we then had babies. Jessica then wanted a rabbit, so we bought her a rabbit and suddenly we were rescuing rabbits from other people. Garry built a huge shed and I set up a web page and the girls looked after the rabbits.  For a while it was rescue and rehome but then Candi wanted to show the rabbits and we began to buy pedigree rabbits for show which we bred.  This appeared to bond Candi and Jessica for a while and gave me time with Lucie, but it soon faded, and Jessica was ‘not allowed’ in the rabbit shed and ‘not allowed’ near the rabbits on Candi’s orders.  Candi claimed that Jessica was leaving cages open and rabbits were escaping and no amount of talking and finding solutions was good enough, so we left Candi to clean out on her own. 

It always caused an argument which Candi always had to win but arguing over who was cleaning out the rabbits was not something I found important!

As a family we went for weekends away where Candi would always take the lead. Candi would always insist on sharing a room with me regardless of whether Garry was with us or not.  She continued to claim that she didn’t feel safe anywhere but home and claimed she was suffering night terrors.  More often than not Garry would not accompany us as Candi would tell him outright that he was not welcome and we would make the decision that it was easier for me to take the girls away without him rather than dealing with Candi’s temper tantrums and he would stay home and look after all the pets.  I would spend most of the time on the phone to Garry or messaging him which would cause Candi to shout at me whilst we were away.  Invariably I would sit in the caravan on the phone to Garry or working on my laptop whilst all 3 girls would go to a kid’s club or to the park.  In the evenings at the clubhouse I would notice that Jessica would sit with me at the table whilst Candi would go off and do the activities with Lucie.

The dance company had been doing well but financially the hall hire and insurance costs were making things difficult financially.  Candi suggested we provide after school clubs and we had started doing this in the school I was working in and in Lucie’s school. Candi approached other schools and got us various new bookings. Jessica had been unable to help in most of the clubs as she wasn’t out of school on time, but Candi had organised that the clubs would form part of her childcare experience hours with college.  Candi would then be with me 1:1 for many more hours.  She would talk about it incessantly ensuring that dance became ‘our’ thing, as in me and her.

Medically, Candi had been suffering with fits and periods of frequently passing out.  I had taken her to the GP and the hospital on several occasions, but no reason could be found.  Until such time as she had a fit or passed out in front of a medical professional, they could not diagnose her, only she claimed that she did not feel safe in hospital and refused to stay for any observations.  During the periods when Candi was not feeling well, she would ask to stay in my room.  When she came to from an episode, she would often appear scared and disorientated.  Garry would stay on the sofa on these nights.

My relationship with Garry was breaking down due to Candi but I felt I was in a position where I had taken on the responsibility of raising her as my own and giving her a home and I couldn’t go back on that.  I would never have chosen Garry over Jessica or Lucie, and Candi was my daughter and I wouldn’t choose Garry over her either.  I was worried about her physically and emotionally and as Candi told me after one of the arguments with Garry, she was a child from a horrific background who needed my unconditional love and support, whereas he was a grown adult who should know better than to be jealous of a child.  I believed her.  By this time Candi’s parents had separated, Martyn had emigrated, and Dawn was touring the country in a campervan.  She was abandoned and had no one else.  It was my duty to ensure her care and protection and she was my daughter, such a treasure to me, and I loved her for it.  As far as I was concerned, I had 3 beautiful daughters who were all caring and considerate and Garry was the one causing the issues.  I supported Candi.

2008 – Losing control

Lucie’s education was going badly as the local authority could not provide trained staff to support her.  Candi encouraged me to make the decision to home educate Lucie, promising that she would support me.  Once Lucie was withdrawn from school, Candi took over most of the lessons. Garry would cover some lessons whilst Candi and I went to run a dance session, and I would teach some lessons whilst Candi attended College, but her attendance was sporadic.  If Candi was at home when I was attempting to teach Lucie, she would take over the lesson and so I was resigned to lesson planning, providing the teaching material and making resources whilst Candi carried out the lesson itself.

Candi attended college where she became involved with a young lad who suffered mild autism.  The only time she met up with Daniel was when he would come to the house or when he would attend the youth club I was running.  After maybe a month, Candi spoke to me & Jess, and said that he was pushing her into having sex.  Candi said she wasn’t happy with the situation and felt she was being forced.  She advised she no longer felt safe with him either in the youth club or at college. I went to college with Candi and supported Candi whilst she made these claims.  College offered to transfer the course and to ensure they were never alone together, but Candi wasn’t content with either measure and became absent from college.  The college felt that Candi should attend counselling, but Candi wasn’t interested, she wanted Daniel banned from the college and nothing else would suffice.  The college investigated but found no evidence and felt Daniel was far too introvert.  Candi refused to attend college and passed her course only after I contacted the examination board to have her work experience hours count within the syllabus.  Subsequently Candi also had to attend college during the school holidays to make up her tutored hours where she received 1:1 tuition. 

Candi could never understand why Daniel and his friends subsequently blocked her and wouldn’t speak to her but adopted the same attitude she had over her parents when she cut them off emotionally. 

During Candi’s time at college, she had to attend various workplaces as part of her course.  One of these places was First Steps, the creche facility within Chichester College.  Candi found it difficult to work within this environment and went on to make a formal complaint that the staff who were employed were abusive to the children, threatening to kill them if they didn’t eat their food and also neglectful of the children.  The College investigated this complaint but found no evidence to support it and Candi was removed from the placement.

My marriage ended.  This is highly attributable to Candi and the continual pressures of her running away, the stress of the arguments between her and Jessica and her demands to always be centre of attention.  Whilst Jessica and Lucie had been able to make and keep friendships, this appeared to be something Candi lacked and as such she clung to me, putting further strain on the marriage. Garry and I felt that the marriage was irretrievable and decided to separate but remained close, practically best friends, with Garry being at the house almost every day and still very much involved in all 3 girls’ lives.  It was an amicable split to reduce the effect on the family.

At this point, I was very upset at the breakdown of my marriage and Candi put herself in the position of my support.  Candi would tell me I was capable of anything, that I didn’t need him as I had her. I worried about Lucie as an especially vulnerable child and it broke my heart that she was the product of a broken home but again Candi said Lucie didn’t need him, she had her.  Candi spoke in such a derogatory manner of Garry, and actually managed to persuade me that we were better off without him.  The following weeks were very hard and I regularly found myself back with Garry, spent hours sitting in his car with us both cuddled up in tears but Candi had been so instrumental in coming between us there was no way we could go back and still have her in the family.  Lucie would have been devastated at losing Candi – more so than she was over Garry leaving and I just couldn’t do it.  So, we remained the best of friends, both of us with the view that as Candi grew up and moved on with her life we would possibly get back together. We both saw our old age as being together, we remained married although no longer living together.  Through my vulnerability at this point in my life, Candi stepped up her role as an adult in the house and began to take over more and more.

It was also around this time that Howard, my first husband and Jessica’s father got back in touch.  He would visit the house and spend a couple of days with us every couple of months. During his visits, Candi would volunteer to give up her bed, so he had somewhere to sleep.  She didn’t want to be in the house with someone she didn’t know as she didn’t feel safe and asked if she could come into my room, which I allowed.  During waking hours, she was very happy and content around Howard, often taking him shopping for alcohol.  She persuaded him to buy her clothes and to take all of us on a short break and to Disneyland Paris. During these trips she would always share a room with me whilst Jessica would share a room with Lucie.  Candi’s reasoning never changed, she blamed it on the alleged sexual abuse from Martyn.

Candi was flirting with a lad who worked in McDonalds.  I can’t remember his name.  In her normal manner she gave him my phone number and they texted each other for a few weeks over my phone.  Eventually he asked her to go on a date, and she agreed but she had no intention of going.  On the evening of the date, he kept texting asking where she was, and she kept texting back saying she was stuck in traffic.  Candi got amusement from the fact he was waiting for her at the cinema and kept him waiting for over 2 hours before he finally said that he was leaving.  Candi continued to text him afterwards, but he refused to reply.   This is a story that Candi regularly tells people, she seems to be proud of it. 

As Garry and I worked out contact arrangements for Garry and Lucie, Garry would frequently not turn up.  This would upset me as I felt it had an effect on Lucie, but I also felt it was important that Lucie be allowed to make her own opinion of her father. I had never stopped my children from seeing their father or extended family and didn’t intend to change that. I also felt it was important that Garry be involved in Lucie’s education, attend sports days and Christmas plays etc.  This was not an issue for Garry or I as we were the best of friends still, but Candi took issue with it.  She demanded that she and I went to see Lucie’s Christmas play & the carol concert together, so I had to buy tickets and go twice. She demanded to go to meetings with the school and would speak up and give her input.  She would also tell Lucie how useless her father was when he didn’t arrive for contact. I knew that she was fiercely protective of Lucie and that she couldn’t control her temper, but I would regularly have to ask her not to voice herself, she was unable to do so.

At Christmas, Garry was not in a financial position to be able to buy presents for anyone and so as not to upset the girls I put his name on all the gifts I had bought so that they would think they were from both of us as they always had been before.  Candi was aware this was not the case as she had been with me when buying most of the gifts, but also, she was now involving herself in every aspect of my life. I struggled financially to pay Garry’s debts, to provide for the family and keep a roof over our heads as a single parent. Candi involved herself wanting to discuss the bills, rent, payment schemes for bailiffs etc and began taking control over more and more in the house. Candi was annoyed that I had even allowed Garry to spend Christmas with us and expected him to pay for his dinner but was also annoyed when I said the gifts were from both of us.  She made sure that both Lucie and Jessica knew Garry had not paid a penny and tormented him for it for many months.

2010 – Dance

Sian was a dancer and I was friends with her parents but she lived a distance away. She would therefore sleep at the house for much of the school holidays and weekends. Simon, her father was very supportive of Sian and attended every event.  His knowledge in audio equipment was valuable and he was able to assist us. 

In 2010, the dance crew began to perform for events.  Candi decided she would like to change the style of dance and bring in more performers. Jessica brought in some of her friends, Luke and Sam.  Jessica and Sam were quite keen on each other whilst Luke was a very sensitive lad.  Candi decided she wanted to dance with Sam and Jess was to dance with Luke, and as such she began making advances towards Sam with a view to becoming his girlfriend.  Within a short period of time, Candi achieved this and told Jessica that she had to date Luke.  Candi would make a point of kissing Sam in front of Jessica, and Sam began to sleepover.  As Jessica and Candi shared a bedroom, an arrangement was made that Jessica would sleep on the sofa when Sam stayed over. 

Candi took over the dance crew, she led all the performances and carnivals, and took on the face of the company.  I had to complete all the paperwork, accounts, produce choreography, manufacture costumes, mix music and organise the whole thing which took up all my time and more.  Candi would regularly berate me for something not being done and would help out with some of the jobs.  As I began working more and more hours, Candi took more control in the house and in parenting Lucie.  She would tell me I was a bad parent as I wasn’t spending any time with any of the girls.

Funding for the dance company was an issue.  We didn’t get paid for performances, but Candi wanted to perform.  She was the lead dancer, and would only ever perform in this role.  She demanded new costumes were made for every performance and would not be seen in the same outfit twice.  Her demands became more and more extreme and the money that the dancers paid to be a member of the group just wasn’t covering the costs.  I tried to put budgets and limits in place but she would become violent and aggressive and accuse me of controlling her.  Candi and Lucie’s needs were always catered to, and this included the dance company whilst I got further and further in debt and financially went without.

Simon’s relationship was breaking down and he and I became very close. Candi informed his girlfriend that he had been trying to have sex with me which ended his relationship, but also ended my friendship with both him and his girlfriend.

Sharne had been Candi’s closest friend since attending school.  Their friendship had been on & off, and Sharne was in and out of the youth club & dance crew.  Sharne had given birth to a little girl and Candi did not approve of the way Sharne was caring for her child and would often interfere.  Things came to a head when she reported Sharne to Social Services for neglect of her child, and then used Facebook to slander Sharne.

Due to the period of time that has passed since this all took place; I am unsure on the order of events but have recollections of certain things that happened within the relationship between Candi & Sam.  I am aware that Candi told Sam she could not have sex with him due to the alleged sexual abuse, but Candi asked me how she could masturbate Sam as he was getting impatient. Candi then reported to anyone who would listen how it had only taken 72 seconds to achieve her goal and get him to leave her alone.

She made it clear she wasn’t interested in him, he was just a toy to be played with but told him how much she loved him.

Prior to a dance performance, Candi caught Sam and Jessica kissing and on a family day out Candi caught Sam and Jessica holding hands and cuddling.  Candi stepped up her advances on him, she would walk into the bathroom and strip off all her clothes just so Sam could look at her, and she made sure he found a vibrator under her pillow but would never let him touch her. 

At one point, Sam told Candi he wanted to be with Jessica and the next day he was arrested for Sexual Assault on the claim that he had inserted his fingers into Candi’s vagina against her will.  When he was released from custody, his parents refused to allow him to have any contact with Candi and she subsequently went missing for roughly a week.  Police were involved, and Sam was contacted, and it was thought that she was watching his house.  I found her in the loft of the house after a couple of days, where she was quite ill having not eaten or drunk.  I told her she needed to go to hospital and made her ‘be found’.  She told the police she had been sleeping on the streets and the hospital gave her the all clear. 

Candi began making up fake Facebook profiles and adding people to spy on Sam.  She added Sam’s school friends and his family.  She was obsessed with where he was going and what he was doing.  Sam’s parents were divorced, and Sam didn’t have regular contact with his dad due to subtantial circumstances.  Candi made contact with his dad and began conversations with him trying to get him on her side, offering to provide contact arrangements etc.

A week or so later, Candi met Sam on his way home from college.  We had just bought a caravan and was on our way to collect it.  Candi persuaded Sam to come with us and we collected the caravan and drove to a camp site.  Candi was begging Sam to stay with her in the caravan but he was uncomfortable so I took him to the nearest town and offered him the money to get the train home and I would stay with Candi and the girls.  Sam chose to stay with Candi, and they holidayed for a week together.  He received a phone call from the police as his mother had reported concerns and spoke to them before I brought the girls home and left Candi and Sam on holiday together. I returned a week later when Sam proposed to Candi and she said yes.  Upon their return Sam moved into the house upon Candi’s insistence.  They began to look at plans to elope and be married. 

Video Link

This was too much for Jessica and after a very short time, Jessica ran away to be with a boyfriend. It wasn’t a pleasant move out and Jessica made several allegations against Candi, John (my stepson) & me.  Jessica alleged kidnap, physical abuse, neglect and a sexual relationship between Candi and me.  John, Candi, Garry and I all attended interview and the investigation revealed no evidence of any of the allegations. Sam and Luke also spoke to the police as they were both spending much of their time with us.

After Jessica left home, Sam became distant and Candi was concerned that she was going to lose her dance partner.  She confided that she had never wanted to be with Sam, she had only wanted him to dance with and that she had no interest in anything else with him, but she was so engrossed in what she was doing that she wasn’t prepared to let him go.  She had stopped all outside influences such as his mother and his sister and friends and made a point of taking up all his time. Just before Christmas 2010, Candi decided that Christmas was family time and he wasn’t family and had served his purpose and she told him she had never wanted him and made him leave.

It started to appear that Candi always needed to be the centre of attention to feel she was worthy of anything.  She needed constant reassurance that she was loved by the family, that people who knew her liked her and thought she was amazing, and it was clear that Sam had been fulfilling this role.  She maintained that she never had any interest in him other than dance and was totally unaffected when he left, actually appearing to be relieved that he was no longer in the house and it was just family again.  However this family was me & her & Lucie. That was how she liked it.

Candi’s feinting episodes began to reveal high temperatures and infections.  She was seen at A&E regularly.  The Doctors would regularly ask her if she was sexually active, could that be a source of infections, could she have an STI, could she be pregnant and she would always maintain that she was not sexually active and that she had never had sex with anyone so pregnancy was not an option.

2012 – different people same story

Candi still wanted to be the lead in dance and so she turned to Luke who had joined in 2010 with Sam.  She began to send him images of her in lingerie to capture his interest and in returned asked for naked pictures of him.  He was only too happy to oblige and from then on, she began sharing his pictures with anyone who would look.  He began to get serious about her, again filling her need to hear how amazing she was and allowing her to be centre of attention and she fully exploited that in any sense she could.  In 2012 Candi and Luke took the lead in two theatre tours and whilst he felt she was in a relationship with him, she told everyone else she couldn’t stand him.  She refused to go on any dates with him, or to meet his mum or to show any interest in his life. When he didn’t conform to what she wanted, she had him removed from the dance company and took legal action against him which I subsequently dropped.

During this time, Candi began chatting online with a lad that Jessica had gone to school with and began sharing intimate images.  I cannot recall his name.  There was also another lad on Facebook by the name of Johnny who was a sender and recipient of sexual images.  Candi had found out that she could be attractive to men and by sending the images she could fulfil her need to hear how fantastic she was.  She flirted with a lad in the local Tesco shop by the name of Mark. She found out where he lived and stalked him on Facebook and when in the shop would ask for him and follow him round the shop.  He was highly embarrassed by her actions and would try to avoid her, but the more he done this the more she would try to find him and she seemed to like to embarrass him, telling his colleagues that she fancied him and that she wanted to be with him. 

She had no intention of ever being with him but would get enjoyment out of his discomfort.

At the same time the dance company had a regular booking to perform in a shopping centre.  One of the security guards began to tell Candi she was good, and she began to flirt with him. Ricky was married and in his late 50’s with a child but Candi revelled in the attention and sent him pictures.  She asked for pictures in return and he again obliged.  Candi invited Ricky to the house for sex on several occasions but always backed out at the last minute and invited him to a theatre tour where she got him on stage and performed a sexy dance around him which she later aired on Facebook.  She met with Ricky in his lunch hour one day and went into the staff room in the shopping centre.  The next day she sent a formal complaint to the manager of the shopping centre for sexual assault from Ricky.  He was suspended and eventually lost his job and his wife and his home and his son, but the outcome was that he had tried to kiss Candi and she had refused.  The dance group were not overly welcome in the shopping centre again.

In late 2012, Candi again needed a dance partner and she found another lad also called Luke.  She had absolutely no interest in him but in order for him to dance with her she seemed to need him to be her boyfriend.   In a very short time, days, it became serious and she was telling him she loved him.  Again, it appeared he filled her need to be told she was amazing constantly but when he wasn’t at the house, she would say how she was just doing it so he could be the male lead in the dance show.  Again, she told him she couldn’t have sex with him because of the alleged sexual abuse allegations but began flashing her breasts and sharing her bed with him.  One night she went too far in her teasing and he touched her intimately at which point she became very angry and started shouting rape.   Luke immediately left the house declaring Candi to be mentally unstable.  Following this incident Candi ran away again and could not be found.  I was in contact with Luke who stated Candi was ringing him saying she was passing out and she didn’t know where she was, and he had to go and find her.   Eventually Candi spoke to me on the phone and told me where she was so I could pick her up and bring her home.  Candi made several attempts to persuade Luke to be her boyfriend again, and to perform with her and when he refused, she took legal action against him on behalf of the dance company. 

2013 – More Men

Lee, Candi’s current boyfriend was in a long-term relationship and had a child but was telling her he was unhappy in his relationship. Candi suggested they were friends with benefits and online relationship followed for a few weeks.  Candi attempted to persuade Lee to leave his girlfriend, but he refused and stated he would not be unfaithful.  Candi sent him suggestive images, asked him to join dance saying she could teach him to dance, and tried to persuade Lee to enrol his daughter in the dance crew. Lee was reluctant to be anything more than online friends.  Candi sent more and more images, with more and more of her body on show but Lee would not change his mind.  When Candi realised, she could not get her own way she posted all of Lee’s messages on his Facebook wall so that his girlfriend could see them in an attempt to split them up.  Lee stopped all communication with her. 

There were constant arguments in the dance crew and Candi got involved in slanderous conversations all over Facebook. As people began to block her, she made up fake accounts so that she could stick up for herself and attack the people she felt were betraying her.  One of the older girls became pregnant and was kicked out of home by her mother.  Candi told her she could stay at our house and we would support her.  Candi used fake Facebook accounts to attack the girl’s mother, and again involved social services.  With the help of a social worker, the girl managed to get accommodation in supported lodgings but only stayed there for a few days before she returned home.  Candi saw this as going against her and launched a full-scale attack on her on Facebook.  She would constantly have the girls account closed down, make fake accounts in the girl’s name, make fake accounts in the mother’s name and generally send nasty messages to people pretending to be either the girl or her mother.  Within a month or so the brother who was also a dancer, left home.  He again was invited to stay at our house by Candi.  Police were called due to his age and he decided to return home, but Candi followed him to a group he attended and tried to persuade him to make allegations against his mum so he could come back to our house.  He chose not to, so again the Facebook attack took place.  I have kept the names out of this as the people involved do not know Candi was behind it and the lad is still friends with Candi.

Candi hadn’t been employed since leaving school and had been claiming benefits.  As part of the benefits program she was awarded training in new skills and subsequently qualified to become a lifeguard.  In the summer of 2013, she got a job at Lakeside Holiday Park.  After the first week, Candi found that she would be working on her own a lot and was not happy that the tasks she was being allocated were appropriate – Cleaning the pool etc.  Candi made a formal complaint against her line manager stating that he was not qualified and not operating within legal guidelines.  I have a vague recollection that the complaint also included allegations of improper conduct towards Candi.  The Holiday Park offered Candi mediation with her line manager and fully investigated all the claims, but Candi never returned.  Following this incident Candi wrote all over review sites claiming appalling conditions and warning people not to holiday there.

At a paintballing event, Candi met Stu.  This was to be another romance at 100 miles an hour and within a week of meeting each other, Stu was sleeping at the house.  Again, Candi said she couldn’t have sex with him due to the alleged childhood sexual abuse, but she could sleep in the same bed as him.  All of Candi’s boyfriends until this point had been virgin’s and not experienced in sex at all.  She was older than all of them, but Stu was older than her and had been in relationships before.  At this time, she was 21 and he was 24.  This became a challenge to Candi, and she began to have late night conversations with Stu where he would be relieving himself and she would be holding her hand over the phone laughing and then pretending to orgasm to him.  Fifty Shades had not long been released and she began to tell Stu fantasies about being tied up and bondage etc.  The more she found she captured his attention the further she went, eventually doing a bondage photoshoot which she then sent the pictures to Stu.  She began writing highly explicit stories and sending them to Stu and yet she wouldn’t let him near her.  Candi persuaded Stu to give up his job, his family, his friends and his hobbies to move in with her in the family home only she hadn’t informed me.  On the day he was packed and leaving to move in, Candi cancelled him. 

Stu had a mental breakdown following this and stopped contact with Candi.

Candi was still obsessed with Stu and annoyed that he wouldn’t reply to any messages she sent him.  Yet again she deployed tactics using fake accounts on Facebook.  She knew Stu was heavily involved in the English Defence League, which have some violent connections.  Candi made up fake accounts and added Stu as a friend.  She then began messaging with Stu telling him she was in danger from another EDL member.  Stu got back in touch with her and she told him she was being threatened by people who were completely made up.  She asked him to protect her and he began sending threatening messages to the fake profiles Candi had created.  Candi kept this pretence up for several weeks until Stu got in trouble for drugs and needed money.  She told him that he needed to choose her rather than his family & friends and that she would only give him the money if he went away with her and never spoke to any of them again.  She had no money to give him but told him she had the money in the house for him if he agreed to her terms.  He again stopped contact with Candi.

Following the theatre tours, Candi had been nominated for and won several awards for her work with disabled children, including the Civic Award and a Woman of the Year Award.  Both of these caused press coverage where it was stated she came from an abusive background.  The newspaper had wanted to publish more about the abuse, but she had played it down and said she didn’t overly want anything mentioned.  When the newspaper published the article, Martyn was incredibly upset.  Candi had resumed a limited relationship with both parents over the years, but it tended to be when she wanted them to pay for something.  There was never any emotional connection between them, never a hug or a cuddle and Candi treated them with the same disdain that she would a stranger in the street.  She never wanted to meet up with them and there was no general chit chat between them, merely a text saying could they do something, pay for something or donate to a fundraising cause she was running.  Both parents had always complied.  Dawn had become involved in dance and taken part in a camp and attended Candi’s 21st birthday party and Martyn had been involved in the theatres taking photographs.  At the time of the article there had been no contact with Martyn for maybe a year as he had got married again and had another child which Candi had been upset not to be involved with, even though that was her choice.  Martyn contacted the paper and explained that he had been cleared of any abuse and demanded a retraction, but Candi fought it all the way.  She requested the files from Social Services and then carefully chose extracts to send to the newspaper.  Candi contacted John & Shiela, her grandparents and Chelsea, her childhood friend at this point and also began exchanging messages with Dawn’s new partner, Pete but was unable to garner any support. Martyn involved the press commission, but Candi quoted some law that said something about if by publishing information they were putting her at risk they were not allowed to publish, and after several months the case was dropped without any retraction.

During the investigations by the press complaints commission, Candi contacted her grandparents in New Zealand and asked them to provide witness statements to the abuse.  She claimed she had told them it was happening at the time, but they had ignored her.  John became very ill thinking his grand-daughter had told him she was being abused and had not acted upon it.  Candi also contacted Chelsea, was also shocked by the claims and asked why she hadn’t ever told her or her mum, Karine who had been very close to Candi.  Again, Candi claimed that she had told them both.  Karine also became very upset at this thinking that she had been told the child she considered a second daughter had told her she was being abused and she hadn’t heard her.  Candi spoke to her mother whom she was talking to at the time and asked her mother to be a witness for her regarding the abuse.  Dawn stated that she had not witnessed any abuse and could not support this claim for the second or third time.  Candi stopped contact with her again.

I have since spoken with John & Sheila, Chelsea, and Maria who have all advised me they had never been aware of anything other than a normal relationship between Candi & her parents and therefore couldn’t support her claims.

Lucie’s had been back in school for a couple of years and her education was again becoming an issue. The focus had to be securing the provision that Lucie needed and I was entangled in legal battles with the Local Authority.  Candi was instrumental in supporting Lucie.  The attention became focused on Candi from other angles, what a fantastic sister she was and how lucky Lucie was to have such a wonderful family around her.  This seemed to appease her, but at the same time she took over the role of parent to Lucie and began to not involve me in decisions regarding Lucie.

Candi maintained it was Garry’s house despite the fact he had left the family home a few years before.  When something went wrong in the house, Candi stated that Garry had a responsibility to fix it and told him so.  Candi asked me to divorce Garry, but I refused as we remained very close and thought that we may be able to repair their marriage.  Candi found it undermining when I would turn to Garry for advice or help rather than her and this would cause arguments.  There were several arguments where Candi became physically aggressive, and I needed to push Candi away in self-defence. Garry was aware of the situation and was always available to take Lucie out of the situation so that it didn’t affect her.

2014 – Leaving It All Behind

Candi had been desperate to move to a new house.  She claimed that she had never felt safe in Chichester as Martyn knew where she was.  She had made many enemies in the area through her constant allegations, through the dance company and through employment and would be worried wherever she went who she was going to bump into.  By this time, we had to go out of the area to go shopping or to walk the dog, just to get some peace.  As Lucie was not in suitable education, and we were yet again in battle with the Local Authority, I agreed to move to a new house.  Candi wanted to move several hours away but I insisted that Garry should either still be able to visit Lucie or he would have to come with us.  Candi absolutely refused to consider the prospect of Garry relocating with us, as it meant he would need to stay in our house until he was able to find employment and accommodation.  I found a house in Aldershot, approximately an hour away from Garry and we were successful in moving to a new house.  Only after we moved did Candi tell me the house wasn’t suitable as she had lived in Aldershot with her parents when growing up, two streets away from where we were now living, and the house was stirring up bad memories.

Candi was insistent that no one knew our new address.  We didn’t have many contacts but there had been a few friends from the dance company that we would have stayed in contact with but Candi didn’t want anyone to know where we moved to, so we effectively disappeared.  We all changed our social media details, email details and anything that we could be traced by.  Only Garry knew where we were, and he was told not to reveal details to anyone.

Candi wanted to be put on the tenancy to the house.  The housing association would only allow her to be a named tenant and successor. This is a conversation that was regularly revisited as Candi seemed to worry about it all the time.  Candi also began to talk about what would happen when I died, wanting to know my wishes for burials or cremation and my thoughts on visiting graves etc. 

I saw nothing strange in it as she would tell me she loved me and wanted to do what was right now I was old (43).

Candi’s grandparents live in New Zealand, having moved there when Candi was only 4 years old.  She had stopped contact with them when she moved in with my family but made contact again in 2013 when her father had disputed the newspaper article.  They were planning a last trip to England in 2014 and wanted to see Candi.  She was initially very excited but when they arrived, she found shopping at Tesco more important than seeing them.  When Candi arrived back at the house, her grandfather asked for a hug and she refused.  In fact, over the week that they stayed Candi refused all interaction with her grandparents.  Lucie was happy to go out for the day with them and spend time with them, but Candi wouldn’t engage.  Her grandparents would tell her off for the way she spoke to them, but also for the way she was acting with Lucie and me, which then caused friction.  On one occasion her grandfather called her Dawn – her mother’s name, at which point Candi got extremely upset and started saying hurtful things to her grandfather and eventually made him cry.  Her grandparents left early and stayed in a hotel until they returned to New Zealand, and all contact was again lost.

Every few months Candi would rekindle her romance with Stu, although they never met up again.  There were lots of sex conversations, intimate photographs and fantasy stories between them but never anything more.  Candi also found a few lads on the internet whom she would also share the same type of relationships with but would never meet up with.  She appeared to get pleasure from the fact that these men would get erections at the most inappropriate times, a lad named Gary was a roofer and she would wait until he was on a roof to send a shocking photograph and then laugh when he exclaimed, he almost fell off.  Candi arranged to meet Gary at a festival the family attended once but then turned her phone off so he couldn’t find her across the stages and the crowds.  At another festival, Candi was flirting with the security guard, Ross.  They exchanged numbers and began texting over the following few weeks.  Candi found out that Ross was engaged and living with his fiancé but continued regardless.  She had no interest in seeing him again.  The images and stories were sent, the same as all the others but Ross wanted to take it a little further than Candi was comfortable with and would ask her to go on live chat and video so he could see what she was claiming to be doing.  Candi could only avoid this for so long and eventually blocked him.  I am also aware of a lad called Spenser who lived in America and Gregg who was more local.  It was only around this time that Candi began to use her own phone for this activity, and she would show everyone the pictures and read the text messages out. She still monitored my phone and my conversations constantly.

Candi claimed that she was suffering bouts of diarrhoea lasting up to 3 or 4 weeks.  During this time, she would stop eating as she claimed that any food was making her worse.  I insisted she visit the GP who then prescribed various medications and referred Candi for tests at the hospital.  Candi was very reluctant to have any tests done and insisted I accompany her to every appointment.  After various medications and tests did not make any improvement, Candi was advised that she would need to have a colonoscopy.  Candi put many obstacles in the way, her allergies, her other medical conditions etc but the hospital were insistent that this was the only avenue left open to them to determine if there was a medical condition.  On the day of the test, Candi made a huge scene regarding anything being inserted into her anus, making all sorts of claims about it being an invasion of her privacy and ‘not right’.  The tests revealed no medical condition or evidence of the symptoms that Candi was complaining of.  Without any further investigation all symptoms disappeared.

2015 – Starting to Settle

I had lost all my friends and family, mainly due to Candi. The battle for Lucie’s education was in progress and extremely hopeful and Candi’s behaviour had settled down, so I began to try to make friends in the area.  I got involved in a local community group and co-owned a Facebook group with a guy called Richard. Candi insisted on being involved and also became a co-owner. Richard and I became friends and would talk outside of the group when suddenly he disappeared.  I later found out that Candi had been sending him messages which had resulted in him not having contact with me. 

Through the group I made friends with a few people and we had a summer party at the house to which we invited 20 or 30 people.  Although I am still on friendly terms with everyone that we invited, over time Candi made sure that I was not able to have a friendship with anyone.  Those she liked became family friends and those she didn’t like were not allowed in our lives and became blocked.

  • Hayley & 2 of her grown up children, Kallie & Marcus.  Hayley was recently separated and wanted company.  Kallie wanted to come to the house, wanted to take Lucie shopping, wanted to be friends with all of us.  Marcus wanted to help open the dance company again.  Candi didn’t like any of them so dismissed them all and made them not welcome in our lives.
  • Emma & her teenage son Ryan.  I met up with Emma a few times, but Candi always insisted on being there and her son was always included.  Candi was very derogatory to Ryan during these meetings and would make fun of Emma, making it very uncomfortable.  Candi would put me down for wanting to be friends with Emma and tried to stop any contact I had with her.
  • Darren & Jordan. Candi made her feelings about Jordan’s parenting skills known & then criticised her professionally.  Candi was flirting with Darren who then wanted a relationship with Candi.  Candi used Darren to help her with some projects but when he wouldn’t just drop everything for her, she stopped contact with him.
  • Emma & Kelly. Candi took over the friendship with Emma making herself the centre of attention. Emma could never have a conversation with me or see me without Candi being there so the friendship was not allowed to continue.
  • Nicky. Candi slandered Nicky for concerns over animal welfare.  Candi had never been to Nicky’s house or seen the way the animals were kept but she believed that Nicky did not have enough knowledge to keep animals and so she started spreading rumours about her. The friendship was not allowed to develop, as rabbit breeders we couldn’t be associated with anyone who neglected their animals.

I made friends with Sam through breeding the rabbits. Candi put herself in the middle of any conversation and make herself the centre of attention.  Again, I wasn’t allowed to meet up with Sam without Candi being there, and Candi had to read any text messages or be involved in any telephone conversation.  She would insist the phone was on loud speaker and would take over most conversations.  Sam remained a friend of the family.  Although I made acquaintances from then on, I didn’t become overly friendly with anyone as I was not allowed to have my own friends that I could talk to or socialise with.  Everyone became ‘family’ friends, so that Candi could be involved.  No one got to know any of us, they were all kept at a distance, just people we knew.

It was also around 2015 that Candi started a war with the neighbours. Candi wanted to park my car by the dropped kerb so that she didn’t have to walk up the bank.  This was outside the neighbour’s house.  Candi became abusive to Teresa and Sarah, when they kept asking her to move the car.  Sarah had a mental health illness and was defending her family and Candi would provoke a reaction from her, gesturing hand signs at her, speaking loudly on the phone being derogatory about her and purposely parking outside their house.  Police were called on more than one occasion to settle disputes.  Sarah moved into supported housing and died shortly after. The neighbours claim that Candi’s abuse was a contributing factor.

Candi continued in her vendetta.  Candi blocked the neighbour’s car in within a couple of inches and then refused to move it.  Again, police were called, and the council were called.  At this point Teresa asked Candi if they could just be civil to each other and stop the silliness.  Candi agreed but by this time (2016) consent had been given for a parking bay outside the house and we were waiting for the works to take place.  This all reflected on me as the car was registered in my name.

2016 – Withdrawal

After Richard left, I closed down the groups and stopped trying to meet people in the area.  Candi was again causing us to have a bad reputation, and as she was always the one on my phone or my accounts, she was doing it in my name.  I withdrew from life and stayed indoors mostly.  As a family we would still go out for family days out, but this became less and less as Lucie started school again.  I still met people through the rabbits, and mutual contacts, but situations seemed to arise with everyone we knew, and Candi was so possessive over me that independent friendships were impossible.  

We became family friends with two ladies who were married, Tia & Lisa.  Candi took a dislike to Lisa and constantly told Tia she was being put down and deserved better.  Tia suffered from depression and this was affecting her relationship with Lisa. Eventually (2017) she told Tia that Lisa had been saying things to her and all contact with them stopped.

Lucie got a place at School but there were no qualified staff to support her.  Candi offered to take the role whilst I offered to support the school.  This initially worked well but my services became unnecessary as staff became used to Lucie & Candi being there.  Candi would regularly come home from school with an issue that had arisen, and I would be expected to contact the school to solve the problem.  There were many times when the staff reports differed from the reports that Candi had made to me, but I believed Candi wholeheartedly and complained to the school on her behalf.  Candi complained about her working conditions, the way staff spoke to her, lack of resources being available to Lucie and then too many resources needing to be prepared with not enough time to complete the adaptions.  She insisted that I undertake the complaints to the school as it would cause issues in her working environment if she were to say anything.  Therefore, my relationship with the school deteriorated very quickly and I was asked not to communicate with staff as they felt they were being criticised. 

This effectively removed me from being involved in Lucie’s education.

Candi took Lucie to Barcelona in October 2016.  They were only gone for a total of 4 days, but Candi spent the whole time on the phone to me.  From the minute I left the airport she was texting me, and once the girls got in their hotel room, she would phone me.  The trip was to go to Porte Ventura Adventure Park and Candi would text me all day from the adventure park.  Queueing for rides, getting off rides, walking to the next ride, getting something to eat, waiting for a show – every opportunity she had she would text me and if I didn’t reply she would tell me off for ignoring her.  When Candi’s phone ran out of battery, she would use Lucie’s phone.  Once in the hotel she would ring me and tell me about it all and would need to know what I was doing, what was I watching on tv, what was I having for dinner, what was I wearing.  She had to know every detail of my life and I was constantly tied to the phone.  Lucie could be heard in the background telling Candi she wanted to go to the beach parties across the road and could Candi just leave me alone for a minute so they could do something, but Candi ignored her.  Lucie asked what the point of them was going if Candi only wanted to talk to me.  Lucie was very annoyed at Candi.  Sam and I had planned to go out whilst the girls were away but due to the incessant contact from Candi I couldn’t go.  Sam became concerned over Candi’s manipulation of me..

Candi began to argue with me over Lucie.  She became insanely jealous of her and felt that I gave Lucie priority treatment because she was blind.  The arguments became frequent and were upsetting Lucie as Candi would say how useless she was, how she would never be independent and never be able to do anything for herself.  At times she went on to say that Lucie was being useless on purpose so that people would do everything for her.  It got too much so I asked Sam for her opinion.  Sam tried to help and was very diplomatic but could understand that Lucie was having difficulty because of her condition and thought Candi should be a bit more lenient with her. 

I became aware that Candi was shoplifting from Asda during the weekly shop.  It became a regular occurrence which neither Lucie or I were happy with.  We both felt uncomfortable but would often not know about it until we were back home.  We began to have arguments over Candi’s habit, but Candi would just put me down telling me how ‘soft’ I was, and how I didn’t ‘have any guts’.  Candi made me feel worthless because I wouldn’t steal items.  She was very proud of how much she could get ‘for free’ as she liked to call it.

Candi’s shoplifting became a regular occurrence only she was now doing it in plain sight on almost every shopping trip.  She would steal clothes on the basis that I had refused to buy any for her.  At one time she had in the region of 23 pairs of jeans and I refused to buy another pair so she stole them telling me it was my fault if she got caught as I was refusing to cater to her basic needs.  This became a regular reason for stealing clothes.  Candi would also steal food saying that it was her contribution to the household.

2017 – Candi Rules

Early in 2017 we were having hutches built for the rabbits that we had continued to breed. I found Dave on Facebook and after reading recommendations contacted him and made an agreement for the hutches.  When he came to the house, he mainly dealt with Candi.  He established that the measurements I had passed to him from Candi were wrong and had to rework all he had already done.  He advised that the stands Candi had built to put the hutches on were not straight or level and needed replacing for him to be able to do a reasonable job, but Candi would not accept there was any issue with her work and took it personally.  Candi regularly checked on his progress throughout the weekend and all decisions had to be made or agreed by her.  Dave complained about her behaviour towards him as being rude and aggressive.  He stated that she was clearly the one in control of the house and that I needed to stand up to her so he could build the hutches to what he & I had agreed. Candi was aware of his complaints through reading my phone and told me I had to stand up for her.  When he had finished the first part of the build Candi complained about the hutches.  I agreed that they were substandard but agreed with Dave that he would come back and resolve the issues.  He then stated he didn’t want to deal with Candi but would only deal with me and the situation became very volatile.  Candi was still controlling my Facebook and mounted a campaign against Dave slandering him over all the rabbit groups whilst I gathered the evidence and filed court proceedings for a refund of the money.

Candi said we couldn’t use the hutches built by Dave and we had to get more hutches built urgently. Brian was recommended to me by a rabbit breeder and agreed to build the hutches.  Again, Brian stated that the stands Candi had made needed replacing but the same situation as before happened where Candi tool this to be a direct insult to her and told me to stick up for her.  During the build he again was micro-managed by Candi, who would come home from supporting Lucie at school and inspect what he had done that day.  She would often make changes to the plans that Brian was working to and again demonstrated that she controlled the household and all the decisions within it.

I had closed the dance business when we moved in 2014. Having looked at and tendered for a few commercial premises it was clear that the regulations we had to conform to would become troublesome, so as a bridging measure a studio was built at the house.  The studio was built by Danny, a local builder.  During the build Candi again took control and would inspect the work done on a daily basis.  She regularly complained that something wasn’t to her liking, that too much money was being spent, that the work done was not fit for purpose etc.  The builders eventually left without finishing the project and Candi undertook to finish the build herself.  This was something she then held against me stating she had to do everything even building the studio that we were to use.  At later times when there was an issue with the build it then became my fault for hiring bad workmen even though they had only built the frame and Candi had finished the job.  I was never allowed to speak negatively about any aspect of the building as Candi took it personally and would say I was being nasty to her.

We rebranded the previous business and using the newly built studio, we relaunched.  Candi had stated her insecurities regarding the business and insisted on being a named Director and Shareholder.  The listings went to Companies House with Candi, Lucie and I being Directors and Shareholders.  Candi was unhappy that Lucie was involved but I had always tried to treat both my daughters equally and Lucie was now at the legal age that she could be a director, so I felt that we all needed to register.  Candi never forgave me for listing Lucie and would regularly shout at Lucie for not doing something within the business, that she didn’t deserve to be a director etc.

Sam was still a family friend and Candi, Sam and I would go out for a meal once a month or so to catch up. Candi would dominate the evening and the conversation and would involve Sam in a lot of the disagreements that we were having about the hutches or the studio or Lucie. It was revealed that Candi was still going through my phone and my social media and Sam expressed her concerns to Candi that she needed to let me have a life.

At age 25 it is recommended that women have a smear test to detect any signs of Gynaecological cancer.  Candi was very reluctant to do this; she was petrified of having anything inserted into her vagina.  Being that the GP surgery served all the family, I spoke to the nurse to advise her of Candi’s worries and suggested to Candi that was who she should see.  Upon Candi’s return she told me that the nurse had said she didn’t have to have it done as it was based on sexual activity, and as Candi was a virgin the risk was very low.  Candi had allowed the smear test anyway but was upset that it was now on her medical record that at the age of 25 she was a virgin.

In October 2017, Candi was approached by Sam whose profession was the manager of a preschool.  The preschool had been the setting for work experience for Lucie, and on the odd occasion Candi had covered for staff absence.  Sam asked if Candi would like to cover paternity leave for a member of staff and Candi agreed.  When the two-week period was over, Sam offered Candi a position supporting a SEN child who required 1:1 assistance.  Candi was insistent that she wanted to take the position but would be reliant on using my car. I explained that using my car left Lucie without transport at a time that arrangements were trying to be made for Lucie to attend college.  Candi explained that she felt she was always the last person in the family to be considered and that whatever her wishes, she had to put her life on hold for everyone else.  The position did not pay enough money for Candi to afford to run a car or be financially independent, but she could not understand this consideration and just felt that she didn’t matter to anyone else in the household.  Lucie’s college was delayed, and Candi took up the position at the preschool, taking my car.

I would run the business whilst Candi was at the preschool, taking on the bulk of the work.  This wasn’t too much of an issue as we were just starting out so there wasn’t a lot of business initially but there was a lot of paperwork to be done.  Lucie took on some duties at Candi’s insistence but struggled with spreadsheets etc and would make mistakes.  Candi would shout and scream at her and be nasty to her about her abilities even though she was aware that Lucie was trying to learn how to use a spreadsheet with the added difficulty of being blind.

Through the business I began to meet more people who I became friendly with.  Candi demanded to be involved in any conversations and took over all the messaging.  Once people had been in the studio, I was stopped from speaking to them and Candi took over all communications.  These people just became added to the list of people we knew, who we would talk to if we bumped into them, and Candi would message occasionally if they could help with business.

Lucie qualified for disability adaptions to be made to the house, one of which was a shower. This meant that our hot water cylinder had to be moved and the logical place was to move it 2 ft into a built in cupboard in Candi’s room. Candi absolutely refused to allow the cylinder to be put in her room, stating we would move house if they did that, which is then against the terms of the adaptions.

2018 – The Last Few Months

A position became vacant at the Preschool Sam was the manager of, and Candi was working for.  Lucie had completed 18 months’ work experience there and had passed an online diploma course in childcare.  She wasn’t going to be in college until the next academic year so I suggested that she apply for the job.  Candi was still taking my car meaning that Lucie and I were stuck indoors all day, but that also meant that she could give Lucie a lift, and it would also help for Lucie to start to take control of her finances.  I approached Sam for an application form for Lucie.  Candi became very abusive at this idea.  The preschool was her ‘thing’ and she didn’t want Lucie there.  She told Lucie that she wouldn’t be able to do the job because of her disability, that during her work experience she had been a liability and that she hadn’t actually done anything of use.  Candi told me that she would be made to look after Lucie all the time and that she wouldn’t be able to do her job if she had to have Lucie with her.  Lucie got so upset by it all that she chose not to apply. I messaged Sam and said that Lucie wouldn’t be applying due to Candi working at the Preschool.  Candi then lost her temper with me.  She said she wouldn’t have people thinking she was the reason Lucie couldn’t do anything and she completed the application form and sent it from Lucie.  Lucie didn’t want the job after everything Candi had said, and in the final event wasn’t offered interview.

During a random conversation, Candi couldn’t work out why the people who had been in her life previously wanted no contact with her.  I was still in vague contact with many people from the past, including ex-boyfriends and ex-husbands with the exception of one, Steve with whom I had lost touch 30 odd years ago.  Candi located him and was instrumental in us becoming friends again.  Once we began talking, Candi would be insanely jealous over me and tried on several occasions to sever the friendship.  In January Steve visited England for a few days to spend time with me and the family.  Candi had been the one to invite Steve to stay but was not happy when he arrived.  She would lay in my bed at night to ensure that I wasn’t about to take Steve to my room, and when Steve and I would sit up late talking, she would keep coming back downstairs to make sure nothing was going on. I attempted to explain to Candi that it was not Candi’s decision, or indeed her business but Candi became caught up in what she was doing and made it very uncomfortable for everyone.  Steve received a phone call for a medical emergency in France where he lives and was talking about when he could return to France to deal with the situation. Candi used this against him and tried to throw him out the door.  She became very violent and agitated over the next few days before Steve left, and attempted to manipulate Lucie into saying how much she disliked him so that I would ask him to leave sooner. 

We had made a connection with a lady running events for mums & babies and booked a stand throughout the year for the business. It wasn’t profitable but it had been paid for and it was still advertising, but we had to try to attract clients to cover our costs. Candi would tell me I was putting off the customers and eventually I would spend the whole of each event sat in the cafe area. I stopped wearing identifying uniform so that no one knew I was associated with the stand. There was an argument before one of the events where Candi had become violent towards me and then stormed out of the house. I could barely move but Candi said I still had to go to the event to sit in the cafe.

Due to the way Candi was behaving, I sought support from Sam.  Although Sam and I had been friends for roughly 3 years by this time, Candi had always had to be involved in the friendship.  Candi’s hold over the friendship had intensified. I was not allowed to see Sam without Candi being there and the conversations on social media had to be in a group setting so that Candi could see what was being said.  For me to be able to speak to Sam, I was only able to telephone Sam at the preschool where Candi was now working.  Sam would shut the office door to be able to take the call.  When Candi returned from work, she would make accusations regarding the conversation, whether it had been about her, what had been said and would become distressed that she wasn’t involved in the conversation.  Candi was finding it extremely difficult to accept that I had involvement with a man, despite the fact that he lived in France, and finding it extremely difficult that I was choosing to seek support from Sam.  Sam spoke to Candi about it whilst we had all been out for a meal.  Later that evening, Candi was very derogatory about Sam stating that she should not be involved in our business and told me not to talk to Sam anymore.

I continued to talk to Steve on the phone, but Candi continued to interrupt.  Another attempt at Steve being able to visit was planned, where we would have a few days break and then Steve would stay at the house to do some maintenance work that I wanted done.  Candi was involved in all the planning and communications and caused arguments between Steve and me.  Again, there was numerous arguments and when Steve arrived, Candi was rude and aggressive.  Steve and I went out for a meal without Candi and Lucie during which time Candi spent the whole-time texting and wanting to know what was happening and why it was taking so long.  On my return, Candi was very angry with me and tried to initiate an argument.  I refused to engage in the argument, so Candi initiated an argument with Steve who slept in his car that night to get away from her aggression.  Candi persuaded me not to go on the trip with Steve and both her and Lucie accompanied me instead.  Whilst away, Candi spoke to Steve making it impossible for him to join us. After 2 days she told me to stop contact with Steve. I messaged Steve and told him I couldn’t cope.

Candi had to return to Hampshire due to working at the nursery.  She caught the train home but remained speaking to me throughout the whole journey.  She returned to the accommodation at the end of her working week meaning she was only away from us for 4 days.  During the time she was away she spent the whole time on the phone or on messenger.  I was trying to work so would leave her on loudspeaker all the time just so I was able to do my work, cook meals etc.  It also meant Lucie could join in the conversations.  Candi would ring in the morning before she went to work and be on the phone until Sam collected her to drive her to work, and then message from work until her children arrived.  She would then ring as soon as she was on her lunch break and spend the whole time on the phone, and as soon as she left work in the afternoon she would again be on the phone and remained on the phone until she went to bed at night. 

I sought support from Michael through all the issues with Candi.  Michael and I had been friends since I had married Garry (2001) but it had always been just via messages and phone contact due to the complicated nature of how we knew each other.  Michael was aware that I was struggling with Candi’s behaviour and that I was often unable to speak to him due to Candi’s control over me.  He had supported me through Candi’s illnesses and was often on the end of the phone when I couldn’t cope any more. Michael and I had become close since my marriage ended, and we tried to meet several times, but Candi would not allow me to go.  At the time that my relationship with Steve had ended due to Candi’s control Michael was encouraging me to go against Candi’s wishes and to persue a future with Steve as he was aware of my feelings for him. 

Towards the end of the Spring term, Candi had begun to show signs of being depressed.  She was complaining about situations at the Preschool, stating that the working conditions were bad.  She would constantly complain that she was hired as 1:1, and then had agreed to take on another child for additional hours but was asked to look after other children all the time, and she felt she couldn’t do her job properly.  When she arrived home after a day at the preschool she would sit on the sofa and not move but be preoccupied with her phone all the time.  She would frequently be found crying and complained that the stress of the job was too much for her, but she had taken on the contract and felt she needed to see it through.  She had formed an attachment to the children she was caring for and didn’t want to let them down.  After many days of Candi being upset, I spoke with Sam as my friend, who tried to talk to Candi and advised her that she needed some professional help.  Candi refused to engage and stated she would not talk to professionals.

Around the same time, Candi struck up a friendship with Lois, a middle-aged woman with a caring nature. Sam told me that Candi was making up stories of woe and hardship to be the recipient of Lois’s attention.  Candi would tell Lois she was suicidal and that she cried herself to sleep at night.  Sam also told me Candi would regularly just burst into tears for no reason. I asked Candi about what I had been told and we argued.  Candi had seemed to be settled and getting what she wanted at every opportunity, but I could see warning signs in Candi’s behaviour.  Candi agreed to go to the GP and was diagnosed as being depressed.  The GP prescribed some form of Prozac for Candi and referred her for Counselling.  Candi refused to take the medication and refused to go to counselling.

I had begun speaking to Steve again, without Candi’s knowledge.  Candi and Lucie were due to take my car to go to a festival for a few days and I had made out I was not well enough to go as it was a 3-day festival.  I had planned for Steve to visit me and spend a few days with me, but Candi did not know this.  Suddenly Steve started receiving messages that I hadn’t sent, and Candi was being really nasty to me.  Candi had told Steve I was ill and in hospital, and at one point she told him I was dead and that he wasn’t welcome at my funeral.  She admitted to being logged into my Facebook and my messenger and had been reading all my messages to everyone to see what I had been saying, and as such she was fully aware that I was planning on meeting up with Steve.  She was absolutely furious with me and berated me for several days.  In addition, she sent messages to Steve from my Facebook account and contacted Steve’s friends and family from both hers & my account and caused trouble for him in France.  Candi made up a fake Facebook account in Steve’s name, using the photos he had on his account and began adding his friends and creating fake messages to cause him trouble. Steve almost lost his home and his job, and he lost a lot of friends over it.  Steve and I continued in conversation for a few days, but Candi would interrupt and shout obscenities down the phone and became violent to me whilst I was on the phone hitting me and snatching the phone out my hand.  She demanded that I end it with Steve, and he didn’t want to come between mother & daughter, so we stopped contact.

Candi turned her attention back on me and began taking days off from the preschool, demanding to go out places as a family. This often left me in an awkward situation as Sam was my friend and I was being asked to lie to her about where I had been etc.  On one occasion Candi told Sam I had been rushed to hospital so that she could leave work to join Lucie and I for an ice cream. Sam was trying to talk to me about Steve, who I was still upset about, but also about Candi’s general manipulation over me but again I could only speak to her if Candi didn’t know about it.  With Candi not going to work and insisting on being with me 24/7 again any conversations with people were difficult.

Part of Candi focusing her attention back on me was making sure that Garry and I were no longer friends.  At her insistence I organised a man with a van to collect my property from Garry’s garage.  As was normal behaviour Candi had to be with me, and she was causing some issues baiting Garry and I against each other.  I had to tell Candi to leave with Rick who was driving the van.  We both knew Rick from our business, and he would need assistance lifting some of the items back at my house. 

Candi and Lucie took the car went on the trip to the festival and again Candi spent the whole time on the phone to me.  I had a little respite whilst she was driving to Wales and back again but other than that she would be at the festival texting, ringing and facetiming me.  Lucie got really upset with her as this was the second trip they had taken, and Candi had again spent the whole time talking to me.  Lucie said it was like Candi just didn’t want to be there, she was moody and sullen, and her attention was focused on me the whole time.

As Candi’s contract at the preschool came to an end, it was evident she was struggling again.  She had become attached to her 2 key children and one was moving to school whilst the other one was not funded, and she couldn’t continue to work with him.  The preschool offered her the opportunity to work with another child, but she did not want to do this.  Candi approached the child’s parent to offer holiday cover during the summer, but the parent was unable to afford to take up this offer.  Candi argued that she wanted to do it at lower cost but did not understand that financially that was not viable, meaning that I would have to continue to support her financially. Candi then looked into becoming a child-minder but was reliant on me to financially support her through training and again, I told her that it was not viable.  The parent advised Candi that the child would be returning to the preschool.  Candi spent many hours talking to the parent trying to discourage that action resulting in serious allegations against 3 members of staff including Sam, and a general safeguarding allegation.  I am aware that Ofsted and the LADO were involved in the investigations and no evidence was found.

In September 2018, Lee unblocked Candi and began speaking to her again.  He plied her with attention and in return she plied him with made up stories, creating a fake persona.  Candi was in one of her ‘on’ phases with Stu and had been asking Stu to meet up and ‘be naughty’ with her but Stu was proving unreliable.  This was a normal pattern of behaviour.  The business was looking for a male to be a model in a wedding photoshoot and Candi asked Lee if he would do it.  Lee was very willing to be involved and saw it as a joke and a revenge on his ex-girlfriend.  From there, Lee constantly made remarks about them getting married and Candi being his wife in a light hearted way.  Candi promised Lee a photoshoot for him and his daughter as payment for the day he would spend modelling, and times and dates were arranged.  The photoshoot went ahead with members of the public congratulating both Candi and Lee, and some initial images were published on Facebook.  Candi and Lee both received lots of comments and other than one or two people Candi made out to everyone that it was real.  She began to get upset with Lee when he started telling people it was a publicity shoot, wanting him to lie to his mother and grandparents that they were married.

On looking at the images Candi decided she did not like them due to her perception of looking short and fat, and therefore she wanted to repeat the shoot.  She felt she had to keep Lee interested in her and so began telling him she liked him and saying ‘love ya’ all the time.  She explained that ‘love ya’ was a phrase being used on Radio 1 by one of the presenters and was something that young people used as a way of saying ‘see ya later’ and that I was old and not ‘with it’ anymore.

My dog was starting to age and had health concerns.  After many months of debating Candi persuaded me that we needed to buy a puppy to look after our dog as her health deteriorated.  A rabbit breeder friend’s dog had just had puppies and whilst we had been buying a rabbit, Candi had asked to see them and persuaded me into telling Jane that we would have a puppy.  The puppies were too young to leave their mum, so Jane reserved the puppy for me.  On the way home I told Candi I didn’t want a puppy and she told me we needed to have two.  She messaged with Jane and had photos sent over and chose another puppy.  She stated that the original puppy would be mine and the one she had just chosen would be hers.  Over the next couple of weeks, she would message with Jane and made arrangements to visit the puppies several times.  It was on one of these visits that Lee had messaged Candi to ask her to be his girlfriend.  I had Candi’s phone at the time as I was taking pictures of the puppies and I told her he had messaged.  She said she didn’t know what to say as she didn’t want to be with him but needed him for the photoshoots.  Messing around I text him back with one word – Yes.  She laughed and thought it was funny.  On the return journey Lee asked her whether it was me who had replied to his text or whether she had meant it and she said it was her and then asked me how could she get out of it without hurting him as she knew he really liked her. From then on, she began planning a whole ‘fake’ relationship with him.

On a subsequent visit to see the puppies, Jane congratulated Candi on her marriage.  Candi made up a story that she had been seeing Lee for years and they had got married in secret, even stating that Lee’s family didn’t know about it and the only person who had been there was me as I had taken the photographs.  I was highly embarrassed and didn’t know what to say and so went along with her story. The puppy Candi had told Jane she was having then became Candi & Lee’s puppy even though it was me paying for it. 

Following my secret conversations with Sam, I had been trying to explain to Candi that I was entitled to a life as well and would reference Steve.  I explained to Candi that regardless of friendship or relationship, it was not Candi’s decision but mine as to whether I wanted to end it or not.  Candi recognised this and telephoned Steve to apologise for her behaviour.  Steve and I began to be in contact again, but I noted that when I was on the phone to Steve, Candi would constantly interrupt and behave in a manner that was attracting my attention.  Candi would permanently tell me she needed to ask me something or need to cuddle up to me because she was upset.  Candi would act this way regardless of whether Lee was visiting or not. Candi kept asking me whether I wanted a relationship with Steve. 

We were due to photograph for a charity event one evening and ended up in an argument just before it had begun. She had left me to set up the photobooth on my own whilst she had been texting Lee. During this conversation she was encouraging him in this ‘relationship’ and then telling me how he was falling on her every word and she couldn’t wait to be rid of him. I had told her if that was how she felt then she needed to walk away from him but she had photoshoots planned with him from which she wanted to gain the images.

I was confused as to whether Candi actually liked Lee or whether it was fake, and on speaking to Candi I kept being told it was all fake.  She was very derogative when speaking about Lee and would be angry at me if I invited Lee to any family days or events. There was one argument over Lee driving Candi and I to the airport in December as Candi didn’t want to be in this ‘fake’ relationship for that amount of time.  I had suggested that Steve & Lee both join the family for Christmas, but Candi got really annoyed saying she had just got rid of Garry and didn’t want anyone else around for Christmas.  In these arguments Candi was getting more and more aggressive and a few times I had an injury from her. I decided all I could do was to support the relationship and I included Lee on family days where possible.

I did notice that Candi seemed to be uncomfortable around him.

I became concerned for Lee.  He appeared to be besotted with Candi to the point that he began stopping seeing other people.  She started to demand that he not speak to other people when he was with her, she was asking that he spend more and more time with her, she began asking him not to see his daughter so much so that they could spend time together and there was always some reason she had to see him if he was with a friend.  Lee’s family and friends began to complain to Lee that they were being cast aside for this girl he had only known a couple of weeks.  Lee’s daughter demanded his attention and Candi was threatened by this.  The more the child became sullen and rude, the more that Candi would make attempts to separate him from her.  Candi had no intention of being in a relationship with Lee but took a strong dislike to his daughter, who appeared to be the first person not to like Candi.  

Lee wanted to sleep over rather than drive home at 2am but Candi kept putting him off saying she wasn’t ready.  She said she felt pressured into him staying over and allowed him to stay but came to my room before bed and begged to sleep in my bed.  Lee was already in her bed by this time, and she said the thought of lying next to him was creeping her out and would I please let her stay with me.  I refused, I needed a break from these situations and she went back in to her own room in a mood.  The next day both Lee and Candi were full of stories that Candi had cuddled the wall all night to be as far away from Lee as possible, and that she hadn’t moved at all.  Candi told me that was because she didn’t want to be with him or be in a relationship with him.

Candi was embarrassed to be seen out with Lee, was telling him he could have a position working within the family business and asked me to train him in photography.  She spoke of the puppies I was buying and told Lee one of them was theirs, talked of family holidays which she was inviting him to and made him think they had a life together.  By this time Candi had decided we was moving to Wales, and she asked Lee to move with us and leave his daughter behind. 

I recognised the pattern of behaviour from years ago when Candi had acted this way with other boyfriends and tried to tell Lee.  Candi found out that Lee and I were texting and demanded that Lee not be told she knew. Lee was a depression sufferer and attended regular support sessions.  I asked Lee for his support and opinion over Candi’s behaviour without letting him know that Candi had told me it was a fake relationship.  Lee told me he felt that Candi needed professional input and asked me to call the mental health team, even without Candi’s consent.

I was finding Candi’s mood swings stressful and was extremely concerned for Candi.  As a result of this, I lost feeling in my right arm, and much of the right side of my body.  I saw my GP who examined me and recorded the lack of use and movement and prescribed medications to provide some relief.  Candi was aware of this fact as she had accompanied me to the GP and the pharmacist and also assisted me round the house and with elements of personal care (hair washing etc).  

My health had been seriously deteriorating for a couple of years.  In 2017 I had been diagnosed with diabetes, but this had also highlighted other concerns.  I had been referred to specialised clinics for various tests some of which I attended and some of which I hadn’t.  At a follow up appointment with the GP I was advised that they were now looking for Cancer following test results in July 2018, which is why I needed to undergo further tests.  Candi had been present during this appointment and during the tests.  She had begun to accompany me to every medical appointment.  On 12.10.18 Candi attended an appointment with me for more comprehensive testing.

Candi’s mood swings were becoming very severe and unpredictable.  We had been out shopping for clothes for Lee as Candi was embarrassed to be seen with him, and we were due to be seeing the puppies. The breeder was someone that the family knew so Candi did not want Lee to meet the breeder unless he looked reasonable, so she bought him Jeans and a hoody and new shoes using my bank card.  During this shopping trip, Candi became very depressed and ashamed at the way she was treating Lee.  She admitted that she had no feelings for him, that she couldn’t stand his daughter, that he was a doormat to be walked on and that she was doing just that.  This put her in a bad mood, and she began saying hurtful things to me.  On arriving back at home, Lucie needed to be given a lift to her Brownies and Candi took her.  I was working on the laptop when Candi returned and made a joke.  I did not respond as I was apprehensive of her mood, which then made Candi abusive to me because I hadn’t laughed at her joke.  I tried to explain that I was finding the extreme mood swings difficult, but Candi wouldn’t listen, deemed the conversation as being derogatory about her and stormed out of the house.  I sent Candi a text to apologise and said I wouldn’t make any negative comments about her moods, but when Candi returned, she began provoking me into having an argument.  Candi made a lot of nasty comments, asked a lot of questions to try to provoke some negative response and eventually stormed off again.  The episode left me feeling extremely unwell and in need of medical attention and so I told Lucie I was going to A&E.  Once Candi was aware of me leaving, she got in the car and refused to let me go.  I explained that I needed to calm down as I was highly stressed and had pains which was telling me I needed to calm down, and that I needed to be away from Candi at that point to be able to do that.  Candi absolutely refused to allow me to go to hospital without her and we sat in the car for almost 4 hours during which time Candi calmed down again.  I agreed to go into the house again to take some painkillers that I had been prescribed, and tried to continue the conversation with Candi but her mood had changed again and she acted in the manner of a petulant child just saying “I don’t want to”, and taking herself off to bed.

Over the next couple of days Candi and I began talking about the way she was acting.  She confided in me that she was struggling mentally.  She said she loved her life; it was perfect, and she had everything she wanted and everything she needed but she had a voice in her head telling her to leave.  She said didn’t want to leave but she had voices in her head.  She said she didn’t feel loved; she knew Lucie & I loved her, but she couldn’t see how anyone could love her. She knew that she had been making mistakes in the business and said this was due to Lee not leaving her alone.  She liked talking to him and he made her laugh, but she had no interest in him and she was ruining the business because of him.  She was proud of the business we had built and everything we had achieved together.  She was excited about the plans we had to move into commercial premises, excited about the puppies we had put deposits on, excited about the two holidays we had just booked and paid for, but she couldn’t get rid of the voices in her head.  She said she knew it was her, she knew it was nothing to do with Lucie or me, but she couldn’t control it.  She didn’t want to get professional help as she didn’t want it on her medical record, but she didn’t think she was strong enough to get through it on her own.  I promised I would support her, and we spent days just talking and talking and talking.  Candi was very clearly suffering with another bout of depression and hadn’t been able to pull herself out of it as she normally did.  Lee wouldn’t leave her alone and messaged constantly.  She regularly told him she didn’t want to be with him, and he would message me to find out what mood she was in.  He told her he wouldn’t let her finish with him and continued to message passing off her messages.

Despite all of this we continued to work, and I tried my best to support Candi. I bought her flowers when we argued and she became upset, I let her work when she wanted and take time out when she wanted. Lee became a permanent fixture in the house because Candi needed the aspect of pretending to be ok in front of someone else to get through the day.

When discussing Candi’s mental health, I told Candi that I had been asking Lee how to support Candi with her depression.  Candi was extremely angry that I had discussed her business and made several threats regarding Lee due to the fact he was talking behind her back.  I spent a couple of hours trying to calm Candi down, and stopping her from taking retribution.  When Candi had calmed down, she asked me to message Lee and ask him to visit the house.  She stated that she needed the ‘fakeness’ to pull herself back together again, and that when Lee was in the house, she had to be something she wasn’t which helped her to control her emotions.  Lee was due to fly to Cyprus within a day or two.  She planned on using this method to control her depression so she could get back to work and being herself and telling Lee she was sorting herself out whilst he was on holiday with the intention of ending the relationship when he returned.  I told her time and again that I thought this was a bad idea and she signed up for counselling online, but she said she needed to be forced into being something she wasn’t by being in front of Lee to get herself through until the counselling took place. 

I agreed to go along with her charade, and I called Lee for her.

Candi had visited the dentist that day.  She was in a mood when she went and had just stormed out of the house, knowing that she would need support but chose to go alone. She didn’t tell the dentist that she was allergic to the anaesthetic and that there had been issues from the previous visit, and promptly passed out from the adrenaline.  The treatment was very harsh and left Candi bruised in her cheek bones and very sore, but also the anaesthetic made her very ill and brought on vasovagal episodes.  Throughout the evening she was vomiting frequently and passing out, sometimes with a mild seizure and sometimes just straight forward loss of consciousness.  Candi lost consciousness on the sofa, on the floor and in the bathroom where she was vomiting.  During the evening, Lee who had been present at the house attempted to recover Candi from episodes and was violently shaking her and slapping her round the face.  I had to manoeuvre Candi into the recovery position several times, involving pulling her out of the bathroom and off of the sofa.  At approximately 1am, I suggested to Candi that Lee should leave the house so that the family could go to bed, and Lucie and I could look after Candi could be for whilst she was ill.  Candi lost her temper at this suggestion and threw the bathroom door which rebounded into her, but she did ask Lee to leave stating that I wouldn’t allow him to stay.  Once Lee had left Candi’s demeanour appeared to return to normal. Candi laid on my bed watching tv whilst I slept.

When I woke up Candi was asleep on my bed, so I woke her up and sent her for a shower.  She didn’t want to get up said she couldn’t face the day.  We had a bit of a laugh about it and she went for a shower.  When she came out, she went in her room and I went for a shower.  I was really struggling with my arm again, so I was a bit quiet when I came out and sat on my bed in a towel waiting for the pain to go.  Candi came into my room and asked me what the matter was? I denied anything being the matter, but she kept on.  I told her my arm was hurting but that also I was a bit annoyed at her reaction to my suggestion that Lee should leave the night before.  I explained my reasoning and she was fine with it.  Then I said I knew she was about to ask if Lee could come to the house that day and I didn’t think it was a good idea.  She said she needed him so she could be this fake person, put on a professional front as that was the only way she could deal with the voices in her head.  I told her I didn’t think she was in a fit mental state for that and she would be better off to find a professional to see.  I also said that as her plan was to end it with Lee whilst he was on holiday, she was better off to tell him she was shopping or something and not see him and keep to her plan.  My opinion was that the continued pretence was not helping her, and she needed to get professional help.  At this Candi lost her temper and began shouting & screaming at me.  She went back into her room and after a while I went to see her to talk to her. 

I sat on her bed and started speaking when she jumped up and started throwing everything, she could hurl at me.  I got up to walk out the room and she jumped at my back punching me in the kidneys.  I used my right arm (the one I had previously seen the doctor about) to hit backwards and hit her so she got off me.  I then walked out the room with her shouting abuse and pushing and shoving me.  I went into my room and Candi followed me.  I shouted at her several times to get out of my room and she went downstairs.  I assumed she was leaving the house as this would be her normal procedure, so I followed her to lock the door.  At the bottom of the stairs the argument continued before Candi decided she was going upstairs to see Lucie.  I followed her upstairs and tried to get to Lucie’s doorway, but Candi pushed me out of the way and down the stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs I collapsed and called to Lucie to get me an ambulance.  I told Candi to ‘get out’ but she walked into the living room and refused.  I pulled myself up on a box and followed her.  She stood in front of me and took the mickey out of the condition I was in, I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak and was barely standing up.  Again, I said, ‘get out’ and she made a move towards the door.  I followed her and she opened the door and stood in the door way.  She took a step out of the door and I went to close it, but she launched herself back at the door in an attempt to come back in.  I pushed the door closed and locked it. 

Shortly after Candi left the house, I was seen by an Ambulance crew in a highly anxious state, unable to breathe, unable to stand and in considerable pain in my arm and my chest & my kidneys.  This was a direct result of the attack by Candi.  The crew remained with me for approximately an hour and spoke to my GP as I refused to go to hospital. I advised them I was waiting for Candi to return as this was fairly normal behaviour for her and then I would go to hospital.

This Story is far from over … read what happened next

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