had moved into the bungalow in Darlington where Auton had lived with his late wife. Angela, from Ashby-de-lazouch, Leics, said: “Whenever I asked my mum about Geoffrey, all she would talk about was the bungalow and how big and beautiful it was. She had only ever lived in rented or council houses so she was in complete awe of Geoffrey’s house.”
Five months after the romance began, Angela received a cryptic message with a phone number from one of his relatives.
“I was stunned when I was connected to Durham Police and put through to an officer, after giving Geoffrey’s full name,” she said. “Initially the officer told me he couldn’t tell me anything as I had no children under the age of 18.
“I was taken aback. As well as having two grown-up daughters at the time, my youngest was just 13 and I also had a nineyear-old grandson.
“After I told him that, the officer explained Geoffrey had been charged with sexual offences against a minor. I was absolutely stunned.
“Then the officer explained my mum was fully aware of the charges as she had been by his side when he was arrested and ‘hadn’t blinked an eyelid’. My shock turned to anger.
“She always claimed her grandchildren and great-grandchild were her life and meant the world to her but she was standing by a known paedophile. I felt sick to the stomach. When I confronted Mum she said the allegations were false.
“She said Geoffrey’s adoptive daughter – who I now know to be Rachel – had made up the abuse story just to get hold of his house when he died. In that moment I disowned my mum, appalled by how she could stand by such an evil man.”
In August last year, the day after what would have been Rachel’s parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, Auton married Margaret at Darlington register office.
This June, Auton, 72, appeared at Teesside crown court and pleaded guilty to three charges of gross indecency against Rachel. He was jailed for two years, six months and given a restraining order. Angela said: “When I heard, I couldn’t stop thinking about Rachel. I knew she would be struggling and I was still trying to comprehend how Margaret could stand by this evil and sick man. In my eyes they were as bad as each other.” Last month Angela texted Rachel to offer her support. Rachel said: “I’d been accused of lying more times than I could remember so it was such a comfort to receive support, especially from the daughter of my dad’s new wife. “As we exchanged messages, it was obvious we were both suffering. It was a real help to be able to talk to someone who knew exactly how I felt. “It’s wonderful that this friendship – something so lovely – can come from something so terrible. “We will always remain friends.” When asked whether she had put her husband before her family, Margaret said: “What a load of rubbish. I’ve had nothing but trouble from Angela.” She added: “I don’t believe Geoffrey abused his daughter. He’s my husband and I love him.”
FAMILY: Angela with her mother after having her own daughter and, right, as a baby with her mum CLOSE: Rachel, left, with Angela