When Sharon and Anthony Cooper moved into their new home in leafy Warwickshire they thought it would be the perfect home to raise their two young children.
Within days of moving in, they were introduced to their next door neighbours and became close friends with William, 55, a mechanic, and Dawn Brown, 52, a hospital worker.
In the days and weeks that followed, the two families became close and they thew parties together.
And were so trusting of William, then 48, they let their 13-year-old daughter Natasha go alone with him to walk their dog.
But in an act of unimaginable betrayal, Brown was secretly grooming and sexually abusing Natasha from the age of 14.
In a story that is every parent’s worst nightmare, in between attending the Coopers’ dinner parties and barbecues, Brown was abusing their underage daughter right under their noses.
What’s more, 55 year old Brown even warped their young daughter’s mind – convincing her she was in love with him.
The abuse – which lasted two years – only came to light when Natasha confided in her mum about the ‘relationship’.
Devastated by the betrayal, furious dad Anthony, 47, a market trader, shopped Brown to the police despite Natasha’s desperate pleas.
In July 2014, Brown admitted four counts of sex with a minor and was jailed for three years at Coventry Crown Court.
Heartbroken Natasha, now 18, was so upset when Brown was arrested that it caused a huge family rift – and she now blames Anthony, 47, and Sharon, 45, for jailing the ‘love of her life.’
Speaking from her home in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, she says:
“Despite people repeatedly telling me that he groomed and abused me, one year on from him being hailed, I’m still upset because I didn’t want Will to go to prison.
“Hiding our relationship for so long nearly tore my family apart, so I am glad it’s out in the open. But now I keep rowing with my dad because I’m so angry that he turned Will in.
“I still have feelings for Will and I can’t help that. I don’t want to put my family through hell and at the end of the day, I wish I didn’t feel this way. It’s very confusing.”
Natasha was just eight when Sharon, a stay at home mum, and Anthony moved her and their son Joseph, now 10, into a rented three bedroom house in Nuneaton.
Their neighbours came round to welcome them and the Coopers were looking forward to raising their children in what appeared to be a friendly, safe neighbourhood.
Mum Sharon says: “Will and Dawn lived next door and came over and introduced themselves. They seemed like such a lovely couple and we hit it off straight away. Will had a huge cheeky grin and was a funny guy.
“They also had two sons in their late teens who lived with them, and we became close with their sons. Will seemed like the perfect family man.
“We ended up spending the afternoon with them, having a laugh and few drinks. Anthony and I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have such nice people living next door.”
Over the course of the next few years, the two couples became so close they would have each other over for barbecues, parties or just a cup of tea and a chat.
Will Brown, 55, was a mechanic and always first on hand to fix Anthony’s car when it broke down.
Anthony says: “It felt great to know we had trusted neighbours just a few feet away, and what made us even closer to the Browns was that our kids loved them.
“Will was always cracking jokes and he would have Natasha in stitches.”
In 2010, Brown offered to walk the Cooper’s Rottweiler while he was out walking his own dog, and Sharon gladly accepted.
She says: “Will also asked Natasha if she wanted to go with him, and off they went. I was just glad our daughter was getting some fresh air and away from the TV.”
Natasha and Brown’s walks soon became a daily outing and the 13-year-old would rush home from school to meet him.
But when she turned 14, in 2011, her parents noticed she was becoming moody and withdrawn.
Sharon adds: “Natasha stopped having her friends over and although she was invited to parties and sleepovers, she never went.
“Our bubbly, outgoing daughter was withdrawing in front of our eyes and we didn’t know why or what to do.
“Like most parents, we just thought she was becoming a grumpy teenager, we had no idea it was far more sinister than that.
It wasn’t until she turned 15, after she’d been out walking the dogs with Brown, that Sharon noticed something was seriously wrong.
“When Natasha walked through the door I could see she had been crying,” she continues, “I asked her what was wrong and she admitted she’d had a fall out with Will.
“She promised it was nothing serious, and she’d just made a jokey comment that he had taken the wrong way.
“I was surprised that she was so upset, but knew her emotions were running high as a teenage girl.”
A few weeks later, Natasha came home again from walking the dogs and stormed up to her bedroom in a fit of rage.
Sharon recalls: “When I went to check on her, she refused to speak to me or come and eat dinner. I was really worried about her. I assumed she was having problems with boys at school, and decided to leave her be for a little while.
“After that, she stopped wanting to come out on family trips and would always stay behind at home.
“Anthony reassured me she was just being a typical teenage girl, but it really hurt me because we’d always been so close. She was such a mummy’s girl and we used to do everything together.”
Natasha then started heading over to Brown’s house after walking the dogs, claiming she was fixing his computer or helping him use a new mobile phone while Dawn was out.
Anthony says: “Natasha was really good with technology so we didn’t think anything of it.”
In August 2013, she turned 16 and the Coopers held a birthday party at their home.
Sharon says: “Later in the evening I noticed Will and Natasha looking very cosy together at the top of the garden. It made me feel uncomfortable so I took her aside and asked what was going on.
“She just said that Will was her friend and shrugged it off.”
But Sharon didn’t feel comfortable with how close they had become, so asked Brown over one afternoon for a chat.
She recalls: “I told Will I was worried Natasha might have a crush on him and he laughed it off. But he then made a comment about not being able to keep his hands off her, and it completely shocked me.
“He promised he was joking, but it didn’t sit right with me. I was furious and told him to leave immediately.”
Confronting Natasha that evening, Sharon was desperate to find out if there was anything going on between her daughter and 50-something neighbour. Now, she was seriously worried.
She recalls: “Eventually, Natasha admitted she had feelings for Will. She said they had been sleeping together since she was 16 and I was completely disgusted. I told her it had to stop and she made me promise I wouldN’T tell her dad.
“I could not believe that dirty old man had taken away my daughter’s innocence.”
Sharon called Browns’ wife over to the house and told her everything Natasha had admitted.
She adds: “Dawn refused to believe me and got angry, but when I showed her Natasha’s phone which had messages from Brown on it, she couldn’t be in denial any more.
“Neither of us could understand how it had been going on under our noses. The thought of it made me feel physically sick. I wanted to protect my daughter and I felt like I had failed as a mother. Natasha had begged me not to tell Anthony, but after a few hours I realised I couldn’t hide it from him.”
Eventually, in September 2013, Natasha sat down with her mum and told her the whole truth about the relationship.
Natasha, now 18, says: “I finally found the courage to tell my mum what had really been going on with Will.
“It just started off with holding hands when I was 13 while we were walking the dogs, but after a little while he would kiss me on the cheek, and the on the lips.
“I really liked him and when I was 14, we had sex for the first time in a field. I knew it was wrong because he was married, but I didn’t care. He was so funny and mature, I fell completely in love with him.
“Seeing my mum get so upset was really hard, we had always been so close and I didn’t want to hurt her. I never wanted to lie to my parents but I knew I had to protect Will, he was the love of my life.”
Furious Anthony seized his daughter’s laptop and went to the police.
Natasha recalls: “I remember dad speeding off in the car and I was in the driveway crying. I hated him so much for turning Will into the police.”
Brown had packed a bag and left his wife behind, but police eventually arrested him at his sister’s house in September 2014, slapping him with a restraining order so he couldn’t contact the Coopers.
Natasha says: “When the police came to interview me, I refused to speak to them. I blamed my parents for calling them and I couldn’t believe they had done that to me.
“In the end, I realised what I had to do, and told the police everything. It broke my heart because I felt like I was betraying Will. But I didn’t want our family to be torn apart anymore.”
William Brown pleaded guilty to four counts of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, and was sentenced to three years in prison at Coventry Crown Court in July 2014.
She still lives in that house and she filed for divorce. We had to move in December 2013, we were so desperate to get out. It was unbearable to live there. Moved 4 miles away. I didn’t bump into Dawn.
Natasha adds: “I made sure I was in court to hear the verdict, but burst into tears when I heard Will was going to prison. To me, he wasn’t a criminal, he was my true love.”
Sharon says: “Natasha was suffering from heart ache and our relationship was really strained for a while.
“She’s getting better now and understands why we had to go to the police. We know she wants to see Will when he is released, we’re just hoping she will change her mind by the time he comes out.
“He groomed her into thinking she was in love with him and in my mind he will always be the twisted paedophile who took away my baby’s innocence. I can never forgive him for that.”