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Nottinghamshire couple kept ex living in garden shed


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Nottinghamshire Police

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Julie Marsden and Gary Cooper remain in a relationship despite being jailed

A former accountant was forced to live in a freezing shed for a year after his ex-girlfriend met a new man.

Chris Chapman, 59, believes he suffered from “Stockholm Syndrome” after becoming dependent on Julie Marsden, 55, and being abused by her partner.

Marsden, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, pleaded guilty to coercive behaviour and Gary Cooper admitted helping her.

She was jailed for 16 months and 53-year-old Cooper for 15 months at Nottingham Crown Court.

The court heard how, after meeting in 2006, Marsden persuaded Mr Chapman to sell his house and move into her home.

She then took over control of his bank accounts and benefits.

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Nottinghamshire Police

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Chris Chapman lived in the shed without heating during a cold 2018 winter

But their relationship broke down and, having nowhere else to go, he moved into a small cupboard under the stairs.

Marsden then invited Cooper to move in with her in 2016 and the abuse got worse, prosecutors said.

After an argument on New Year’s Day 2017, Mr Chapman was told to move into the shed at the bottom of the garden.

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Mr Chapman was fed so badly he lost seven stone

He was given a list of things he had to ask to do, such as use the toilet, and the court heard he was physically attacked a number of times by Cooper.

The defendants kept about 50 rabbits, which the prosecution said were living in “much better conditions” than Mr Chapman.

He lived like this for about a year until the neighbours found out.

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Nottinghamshire Police

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Mr Chapman was made to use a bucket in the shed instead of a toilet and was fed so badly he lost seven stone

Mr Chapman, formerly of Leicestershire, agreed to waive his anonymity to tell his story because “nobody should go through anything like I’ve been through”.

He admitted he had willingly sold his house and moved in – despite originally planning to use the money to retire to the coast – but he did it because he believed he and Marsden had “fallen in love”.

He told the BBC: “I had never had a family, other than my parents. I had always wanted that.

“But going with my heart instead of my head for the first time ruined my life.”

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Nottinghamshire Police

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The electricity supply was controlled by Marsden and Cooper and he had to ask them to turn it on

He said he stayed because he had contact with no one else and feared being made homeless, and described it as like Stockholm Syndrome.

Mr Chapman said: “The winter was unbearably cold because I had no heating.

“Being told you’re worthless and the emotional side, the verbal abuse, the physical abuse. Humans shouldn’t be treated that way.”

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