A wheelchair-bound pensioner who married a Tunisian toyboy 36 years her junior has spoken of her heartbreak after he left her after just a fortnight of married life in Britain.
Patricia Hancocks, 64, met Mondher Mezni, when he was 26 on an online dating website and believed at last she had met ‘the One’ – but now fears he ‘only married me for a visa’.
The couple enjoyed a whirlwind romance and got engaged after just 19 days together, on Ms Hancocks’ second holiday to Tunisia to visit her toyboy.
New life: Patricia Hancocks, 64, met Mondher Mezni when he was 26 on an online dating website and after a short engagement they married, but two weeks after moving in together in Britain he left her
They married in north Africa in November 2012 in a lavish ceremony, which included the ceremonial slaughter of a sheep, and she paid for it by living on toast and butter.
After a brief honeymoon they spent eight months apart while the twice-married retired cleaner secured him a visa.
Mr Mezni, now 29, then he moved to her home in Leicester where he stayed at home to cook, clean and care for his new wife before he suddenly fled a fortnight later.
After six months of silence he texted out of the blue and started asking for money from her to support his new life in Britain, while his wife is now slowly saving for a divorce.
She said: ‘He treated me like a princess, and the sex was incredible. I hadn’t felt the touch of a man for so long. I thought he was The One.’
But the couple’s fairytale romance was not to last and Mr Mezni left her after living in her home in Leicester for just two weeks.
Now Ms Hancocks – who is saving for a divorce – has been left questioning whether her husband ever loved her, or whether he was only interested in a visa.
The mother-of-three said: ‘I started speaking to Mondher in summer 2012 and we instantly hit it off. Even over the internet I could feel the chemistry.
‘I hadn’t had a relationship for ages, and wasn’t looking for love but there was just something about him. Pretty soon we were speaking online five times a week.
‘He showered me with compliments and our conversations were the highlight of my day. When he asked me to go out and visit him I jumped at the chance.’
The retired cleaner did not tell her internet lover that she had been in a wheelchair for the past 12 years after suffering from crippling osteoarthritis.
She says: ‘I was anxious. What would he think of me? But I needn’t have worried. The first thing he told me was that I was beautiful. He couldn’t speak much English, but we used a translation app on his phone.
‘When we’d been speaking online he’d done the same. I paid for dinner on the first night, knowing that Mondher didn’t earn much working in a local café.
‘Then we headed to his bedroom in his family home and for the next few days we barely left. After the first time we made love I asked him whether I was too old for him, but he told me I was perfect.’
Whirlwind: The couple were married after 17 days together on Ms Hancocks’ second holiday to his native Tunisia
Wedding: The bride said she lived on toast and butter to pay for her dress and much of the ceremony in 2012
Romance: She said that after their wedding they were madly in love but suddenly things changed after they moved in together
Following the two-week holiday, Ms Hancocks scrimped and saved so she could return.
‘Five days into my next visit we were having coffee when Mondher told me that we were getting married,’ she recalled.
‘By now I’d fallen for him hook, line and sinker, so of course I accepted.
‘My first marriage had ended 25 years ago. I never thought I’d be a bride again. We organised the wedding for just three weeks’ time.’
She bought the rings and back home ordered an ivory gown. But the bride-to-be’s happiness was tinged with sadness as none of her family or friends could make it to Tunisia at such short notice.
She said: ‘My daughters were happy for me, but told me to be careful.
Only the wedding was proving costly for me, so I survived on a diet of butter and toast to afford it.
‘But back in Mondher’s arms I was sure I had made the right decision.’
In November 2012, the couple said their vows at the local register office. Afterwards a sheep was slaughtered to commemorate the occasion.
She says: ‘It was all so magical. Everyone was thrilled for us. The next morning I woke to Mondher handing me a present.
‘When he gave me the small box I was so excited. He’d never got me a present before, and it was just the right size for a ring.
‘But when I opened it, it wasn’t jewellery. It was a pair of false eyelashes. He told me I’d look beautiful in them. I tried to hide my disappointment.’
Message: Ms Hancocks says that after six months of silence she started getting these messages asking for money from her husband who said he had ‘no one’ in Britain to help him
Just a week later Ms Hancocks headed back to the UK without her husband.
She said: ‘There, I worked on getting Mondher a visa, and eight months later I managed to secure him a visitor visa.
‘It was only temporary but I couldn’t wait to live properly as husband and wife. For the first week, life was perfect. We were still in the honeymoon period.
Fresh start: Ms Hancocks says she is slowly saving for a divorce and cannot trust men after what happened to her
‘But then he started to act differently. The chores, sex and compliments all dried up, he said it was like living in a prison.
‘And, just a fortnight after he’d arrived, he packed his bags and moved to Portsmouth. I was distraught. I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with him.
‘Then everything went quiet, until he text me asking for money six months later.’
The message read: ‘I don’t have no penny baby…if you can send me £100. I don’t have no one to help me in ur country just u baby (sic).’
Ms Hancocks said: ‘After everything that happened I can’t believe he asked that.
‘He broke my heart. I wouldn’t let him break my bank balance too. Though, in all honesty, I’ve spent thousands on flights, gifts and the wedding.
‘Now I haven’t seen Mondher for over a year, and I’m still trying to get my life back on track.
‘We’re still married, but I’m slowly saving up for a divorce. When I feel low I start to doubt whether Mondher ever really loved me.
‘But I don’t need a man. I’ve got my dogs, Benjy, Caesar and Lucy, and they’re my world. Unlike Mondher, I know that they’ll never leave me.’
Mr Mezni, now back in Tunisia, said: ‘I want to forget this problem with my wife. I married her and when I moved to the UK I respected her.
‘When she came out to see me, she came to my family house. She never had to pay for hotel because we accepted her like a member of the family.
‘She never gave me a visa. At first I was happy living with my wife, I cleaned, hovered and did the washing up. But she scared me, so I left to a different town to go and work.’