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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
National
Ann Cusack & Saffron Otter

'I fell in love with my dad's mate and it was my biggest mistake'

A woman who fell in love with her dad's friend has spoken of her relief after he was locked up. Emma Cox, 31, fell for a man almost twice her age, with their relationship starting in secret when she was just 16 - 21 years his junior.

The couple had two children but things had turned violent - and stayed that way. Last week, Thomas Manning, 52, was imprisoned for 44 months at Cambridge Crown Court after assaulting Emma and breaching a non-molestation order.

Following his conviction, the mum, from Lincolnshire, said: “Because he was older I trusted him and looked up to him.

READ MORE: Cruel woman blew cannabis smoke up dog's nose - after her prisoner boyfriend asked her to

"He played on the age gap right from the start and yet I was the one left with the responsibility of our home and our children. Jimmy [Thomas's middle name] may be twice my age, but he acts like a total moron.”

Manning was introduced to Emma as a friend of her dad's. “I knew Thomas by his middle name, Jimmy, and he was a mate of my dad’s and at first he was just friendly towards me but then we started seeing each other secretly," Emma continued.

"He was so much older and so I really trusted him and felt flattered that a man like him would be interested in me, as a teenager" (Focus Features)

"He said people wouldn’t approve, which to me made it seem all the more exciting. He was so much older and so I really trusted him and felt flattered that a man like him would be interested in me, as a teenager."

Eight months into their relationship, though, Manning slapped Emma in a row. "I was too young to understand the real implications of it," she says.

“He was immediately apologetic and bought me a teddy bear with matching slippers and a cute mug. I gave him a second chance.” The couple later had two children together, now aged six and four.

Emma's ex with their baby (Focus Features)

“I really wanted to make our relationship work for the sake of our children," Emma added. "But when our second daughter was born, on New Year’s Eve 2017, Jimmy was out partying with other women.

“After that, things went downhill and we were on and off. Funnily enough, the age gap seemed to be reversed; I was the sensible one at home with our children and Jimmy was out doing exactly what he liked.

“I got a non-molestation order against him, but he didn’t stick to it. He even turned up with a gift for my birthday as if nothing was wrong.”

Thomas Manning, 52, was imprisoned for 44 months at Cambridge Crown Court (Focus Features)

The couple split for good in April 2021 and soon after, Emma was ambushed in the street by Jimmy and several other people. She said: “A black car pulled up as I was walking to the shops and he got out and started attacking me, punching me.

"They had a baseball bat and I was begging and pleading with them to stop. Luckily because it was in the street, they ran off as soon as people started to come to help me.”

Emma with her new partner Brent (Focus Features)

Emma was left with cuts and bruises and a bust lip. “Incredibly, even after that, Jimmy tried to contact me," said Emma. Manning was eventually charged with assault and breach of a non-molestation order before he was imprisoned last week for the assault.

Three other defendants were also sentenced in connection with the attack. Emma added: “I am glad that Jimmy has been jailed; I ought to have reported him long ago.

"I am moving on now with my life focussing on my children and I have a new partner, Brent. My biggest mistake was to trust Jimmy because he was older and more mature.

"I always felt that he was the one in charge, regardless of his appalling behaviour. Now I can see that he was nothing more than a bully.”

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