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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ann Cusack & Rosaleen Fenton

'I fell in love with my dad's mate and it was the biggest mistake I will ever make'

A young woman who fell in love with her dad's friend has shared her relief after he was put behind bars.

Emma Cox, 31, fell for Thomas Manning when she was just 16 years old - and Manning, then 37, encouraged her to keep the relationship secret.

The couple had two children - but just eight months into the relationship, it turned violent.

Now Manning, 52, has been imprisoned for 44 months at Cambridge Crown Court, after assaulting Emma in an ambush.

Following his conviction, Emma, from Lincolnshire, has shared her horror ordeal, which began as a teenager.

She said: “Because he was older I trusted him and looked up to him.

"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 [Manning's middle name] may be twice my age, but he acts like a total moron.”

Emma, with her new partner, has shared her relief that her ex is behind bars (Focus Features)
Emma's ex with their child (Focus Features)

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Emma was introduced to Manning as a friend of her dad's when she was just 16 years old. "At first he was just friendly towards me but then we started seeing each other secretly," Emma said.

"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, Manning slapped Emma in a row, and looking back, Emma says she was "too young to understand the real implications of it.”

She added: “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 went on to have two children together, now aged six and four.

She has found love with Brent - and bravely shared her ordeal (Focus Features)
Thomas Manning, 52, was this week imprisoned for 44 months (Focus Features)

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

"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."

The couple finally split in April 2021 and soon after, Emma was ambushed in the street by Jimmy and several other people.

Recounting the incident, she recalled: “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 was left with cuts and bruises and a bust lip.

She says: “Incredibly, even after that, Jimmy tried to contact me.”

Thomas James Manning, of Mill Close, Wisbech was charged with assault and breach of a non-molestation order and was last week sentenced to three years and eight months in prison at Cambridge Crown Court.

Three other defendants were also sentenced in connection with the attack.

Emma says: “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.”

If you are experiencing abuse, phone the police. You can also contact the National Domestic Violence Helpline for support on 0808 2000 247.

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