John and Jacqui Copsey had been through a lot together. Their connection weathered jealously, divorce, children, an election and even a brain tumor. While it seemed like the couple who had drifted apart and found each other later in life were built to last, all it took was a pretty 19-year-old girl to tear them apart.
Charismatic, outgoing and larger than life, the electrical engineer with a passion for local politics was a popular choice in the East Yorkshire seaside town.
And John, looking distinguished in his mayoral robes and chains, took to civic duty like a duck to water. He never missed an official function, even though Jacqui, 63, was often too ill to join him as mayoress after treatment for a brain tumour.
A tireless charity-fundraiser, John, 62, let people try on his mayoral chains for a £1 donation to the local air ambulance and was a natural in front of the cameras.
John and Jacqui 2015
He and Jacqui, who first got together 38 years ago, were respected VIPs and regulars at the local yacht club and have a 34-year-old son who is first officer on luxury boat charters.
Jacqui was so proud of John. But not any more: today, she is devastated, humiliated and betrayed.
The whole town was scandalized when it emerged the former mayor had ‘ditched’ Jacqui for 19-year-old agricultural student Daisy Tomlinson — a young woman 43 years his junior.
It’s one thing to have to deal with your husband trading you in for a younger model, but another thing altogether when it’s for someone who’s young enough to be your granddaughter.
Splashed all over the papers were photographs of the new couple out and about, hand-in-hand, looking less — it must be said — like lovebirds than a teenager taking her doddery grandad out for the day.
‘I think he’s gone completely nuts,’ says Jacqui, still in shock by the sudden and tawdry end to her partnership with John.
‘He must have gone mad, because I can’t find any other way to explain it. He’s too old for a mid-life crisis.’
For Jacqui, the whole saga has been nothing short of a ‘nightmare’. She says she feels like a ‘laughing stock’ every time she leaves the house.
The love-struck pair, however, remain defiant.
Now sharing a flat with his teenage lover, Mr Copsey said after the scandal broke: ‘We are very much in love and intend to marry. You can put that down as our official engagement. There is nothing more to it.’
Daisy added: ‘We are very happy. We are at a loss why anyone is interested. It’s quite boring. My parents are happy. They say they are happy as long as I am happy.’
Mr Copsey, who met Daisy at a rock concert when she was only 17, insisted their friendship turned to romance only recently, adding that there was ‘no abuse of position’.
But in her first interview, wife Jacqui claims Daisy admitted she and John had been seeing each other once a week for the past two years.
Furthermore, Jacqui denies being ‘ditched’, saying that she kicked John out of the marital home last month after her attempts to reason with the star-crossed lovers fell on deaf ears.
When contacted by the Daily Mail, Mr Copsey who though no longer mayor is still a town councilor said he had no further comment to make either on his relationship with Daisy or on anything his ex-wife has to say.
‘At first, I thought it was just a foolish schoolgirl crush which would fizzle out with time,’ says Jacqui, who now faces having to sell their jointly owned £235,000 three-bedroom home in a painful division of assets.
‘I don’t know how many times I said to John: “She’s only 19!” I thought he’d come to his senses and realize he was being a silly old fool, flattered by the attention.
‘John was a very good mayor and someone in his position shouldn’t have given her the time of day. It’s just crazy.
‘I can’t even begin to understand what she sees in him. I asked him: “What do you speak about? What do you have in common?” He just told me: “Oh, we get on very well.”
‘Perhaps it’s because she’ll just listen to him and not question anything, whereas I don’t. Or it’s the sex and his brain is in his crotch. I just don’t know.’
Jacqui says the couple’s son is horrified at his father’s behavior.
‘He says that even he, at 34, wouldn’t entertain going out with a 19-year-old,’ she says.
‘Even Daisy’s mother, at 49, is too young for John. The whole thing is ridiculous.’
Married in 1980, seven months after meeting in a nightclub, Jacqui admits her relationship with John has not been without problems.
In 1992, following a series of rows over what Jacqui calls John’s roving eye, they divorced. She claims he has always been ‘a ladies’ man’ and a ‘bit of a player’.
Nevertheless, in 1997 they reconciled after John’s second marriage broke down and Jacqui split from her policeman boyfriend. She says they had both realised they still loved each other.
The couple never got round to remarrying, although weddings were booked twice, but they had lived as man and wife ever since.
‘We just kind of drifted back together,’ says Jacqui. ‘We had a son, who was still a teenager, and I was feeling vulnerable after the death of my father from cancer. Our marital home was still in joint names. John was tall, good-looking and — despite being full of himself — a lively man to be with.
‘I thought it was better second time round, but now I think I was deluded and blinkered. I wish we’d never got back together.’
In 2011, shortly after John was elected to Bridlington council, Jacqui had an MRI scan to investigate loss of hearing and night-time seizures, and was shocked to be told she had a brain tumor.
John was so upset when I phoned him with the news,’ she recalls. ‘He had to pull over in the car he was crying so much.’
John was with her when she underwent radiotherapy in Sheffield to successfully treat the 2cm tumour, but the after-effects continue to this day.
Ever since, she’s suffered seizures, dizziness, tinnitus and extreme fatigue, forcing her to retire from nursing through ill-health.
John was elected deputy mayor in 2014, but Jacqui found herself unable to fully support him in his civic duties.
‘I remember John telling me after I was diagnosed with the brain tumour: “Don’t worry, Jacqui, I will stand by you,”’ she says. In 2015, three weeks before John was elected mayor, Jacqui collapsed at home following a massive seizure.
It was their son, who was home at the time, who called the ambulance.
‘I was so poorly, I was like someone with Alzheimer’s for a couple of weeks,’ she recalls.
‘I was on anti-epileptic drugs, which I shall be on for life, and steroids to reduce inflammation. The steroids caused me to put on three stone — not that I was bothered what I looked like — and my head felt full of polystyrene, but during that time John never dropped one civic engagement.’
Jacqui blames her illness for not noticing the warning signs sooner.
She says she knew Daisy only as a local teenager who belonged to a troupe of amateur performing artists, dressing up as trolls and wearing grotesque masks to entertain crowds at civic events and lark around for the cameras.
So no alarm registered when last year she saw a photograph of Daisy — minus her troll mask — posted on Facebook, showing her wearing John’s mayoral chains, with the caption: ‘Decided being mayor is not for me — I’m sticking to farming.’
‘One day John told me: “Oh, Daisy came up to me in the street and pinched my bum while I was talking to a gentleman.” And I replied: “Aren’t you the lucky one to have such a young admirer?”
‘I thought her a funny little thing, quite plain and nondescript, and I made a joke of it, because why on earth would such a young girl be interested in someone of John’s age? Later, at a civic lunch, I teased him and told everyone, “Oh John’s got a follower called Daisy” — and they started singing the song “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do, I’m half crazy over the love of you”.
‘John laughed it off and said: “I don’t know about Daisy, but you’re all crazy!”’
At a Dickensian festival at Christmas, Jacqui made a rare appearance with John and happily chatted with Daisy, telling the teenager she’d been poorly lately, but was feeling better.
But Jacqui’s suspicions were raised when, on Christmas Eve, John’s mobile phone kept ringing with calls from the teenager.
‘John told me Daisy just wanted some electrical advice because her grandad had been trying to fix their kettle and she was worried,’ says Jacqui.
‘I thought then it was a bit strange and wondered if she had a schoolgirl crush. Maybe that’s what it was in the beginning, but John should have had the control and decency not to follow it.’
Jacqui believed Daisy’s infatuation would quickly fizzle out if she ignored it, and claims John assured her that he, too, regarded it as a bit of a nuisance.
‘He told me Daisy was just a silly girl who wouldn’t leave him alone,’ she says. ‘He said he wished he’d never set eyes on her and was giving her the brush-off — and, more fool me, I believed him.’
But this year Jacqui found out John and Daisy had been on dates and had enjoyed a picnic together.
She then received a message — sent from a fake Facebook account — informing her that the pair were seeing each other behind her back.
There followed tears, rows, accusations and denials, so Jacqui decided to contact Daisy to ask what was going on.
‘I tried to reason with her, telling her: “Daisy, you’re young — your heart will soon mend. John is old enough to be your grandfather,”’ Jacqui says.
‘I thought maybe she was looking for a father figure, but she insisted that wasn’t the case.
‘She said that she was in love with John and he with her. I couldn’t believe it.
Daisy (pictured) said she was ‘very happy’ with Mr Copsey and that her parents were ‘happy’ with her relationship
‘She told me: “I have messages that prove John told me he loved me and wants to be with me. I know I shouldn’t have got involved with him, but I fell in love with him deeply.”’
Jacqui opens her laptop and reads — in a flat, beaten voice — the text messages she says Daisy forwarded to her as proof of John’s love for her.
In one, John apparently tells Daisy he wants her to have his baby. He calls her his one love, his possession, his dream and — reassuring her she is not just a bit on the side — his future wife.
‘When I confronted John, he told me the text messages must have been doctored,’ says Jacqui. ‘I believed him at first, but I don’t see how they could have been.
‘I felt so hurt and angry, but I’m not a nasty person and I gave them both more leeway than I should have because Daisy was so young and naive.
‘I gave John chance after chance to end it, and he kept insisting that he had or that he was trying to.
‘He told me: “I’ve told her all sorts to put her off.” But, in the end, he just couldn’t do it — or he didn’t want to.’
Matters came to a head on Friday September 8 after John and Jacqui both attended a memorial at the yacht club, where an old friend’s ashes were being scattered.
Afterwards, they went into town together to have a drink and then get a takeaway to bring home, but ran straight into Daisy.
‘I took one look at her and instinct told me that the relationship wasn’t over. “You’re still together, aren’t you?” I said — and they both said “Yes”.
‘I was very calm, but the next morning I thought, “That’s it, Jacqui, enough is enough”, and chucked him out.
‘John moved into lodgings first, and then he and Daisy got a flat together.’
Today, relations remain strained, to say the least. Jacqui reckons it is only a matter of time before Daisy tires of her elderly fiance, and she says she wouldn’t be surprised if John asked if he could come home.
She says he recently sent her a text message, apologizing for all the upset and adding: ‘I understand you hate my guts, but I will help you in any way, shopping, financial, whatever you need.’
‘I do miss him and I don’t like being on my own, but I’d be a complete idiot to have him back,’ she says. ‘I can’t humiliate myself further.
‘I gave him all those chances. He didn’t have to do this.
‘I’d be unhappy if Daisy was 50 or 60, but the fact she’s only 19 makes it so horrible. She’s so young, and he’s old enough to know better.
‘It makes me wonder if John ever really loved me, or if he knows anything about love at all.’
From Daily Mail/UK