Lorna Garnett, 28, said she “had reservations at first about taking a refugee into our home” but came around to the idea after her partner Tony Garnett, 29, signed up for the Government scheme to house refugees in the wake of Russia’s invasion. But after looking into the scheme, Ms Garnett came around to the idea and invited Sofiia Karkadym, 22, to move into their family home in Bradford, West Yorks, where they live with their two children. Sofiia had fled to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, and accepted Tony’s offer on social media to move into the home after he ditched the government scheme due to the “pace of progress.”
He began reaching out to refugees on Facebook groups, where he found 22-year-old Sofiia who quickly accepted his offer and made her journey to the UK from Ukraine.
Devastated Lorna Garnett claimed Sofiia “set her sights on him and took what she wanted” and was after her lover “from day one”.
Lorna added: “She decided she wanted him and she took him. She didn’t care about the devastation that was left behind. Everything I knew has been turned on its head in the space of two weeks. I don’t know what I would have done without my friends, who have been here for me every minute since he left. I just don’t understand how he could throw all that away for a woman he’s known for a fortnight. The life I knew is shattered.”
The dad, who works at an NHS drop-in centre, was introduced to Sofiia on Facebook and offered to become her UK sponsor, before she was finally offered a visa at the beginning of May.
She flew to Manchester airport and moved in with Tony and Lorna but within days, tensions grew between the trio with Lorna quickly regretting her decision to invite Lorna into her home.
Lorna claims that Sofiia would put on make-up, style her hair and wear a low-cut top for when Tony arrived home from work.
After just ten days, Lorna snapped and kicked Sofiia out of their home, but was left devastated when her partner packed his bags and went too. The pair then started sharing a bed at his mum’s house.
Lorna said: “It very quickly became clear to me that Sofiia wasn’t interested in spending any time with me. She would stay in bed until 11:30am or 12 noon and when she got up she was very difficult to converse with. Her English is pretty good, so it wasn’t a language barrier. She just wasn’t interested in spending time with me. We did go shopping because she got a £200 grant for clothes and essentials from the local authority, so I took her to Primark to get some new things.
“During the day she wore no make-up, didn’t do her hair and made no effort with her appearance. But that changed after 5pm when Tony was due to come home. Suddenly she’d come downstairs in red lippy, hair done, and a low cut top. At first, I told myself I was imagining it or being irrationally jealous but sadly I was right all along.”
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A neighbour had warned Lorna of the seemingly growing bond between Tony and Sofiia, adding: “My neighbour came over to see me and said she was concerned. She said as they’d been a little touchy feely and she didn’t like the look of it. By that time I’d started to feel like the third wheel as they sat on the sofa laughing and joking while I was ignored. I suddenly felt unwelcome in my own home.”
Lorna and Tony had been together for eight years and had two children together before he told her of his “whirlwind romance” with Sofiia and claimed he had fallen in love with the woman he had known for ten days.
She said: “We’d been together since 2014, made a home together and have two beautiful children. He tells me that he’s sharing a bed with her at his mother’s house so that tells me everything I need to know.”
Lorna, who changed her last name by deed poll and is not married to Tony, is now warning other families to be careful when inviting people into their homes.
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She said: “I would never put anyone off taking in refugees. This is a crisis in Ukraine and people like me will want to have the heart to help those in need. But I don’t want this to happen to anyone else because it’s been devastating. All I would say is, think very carefully about the possible impact of having a total stranger living in your home with your family and your wife or husband.
“They barely know each other, it’s crazy. I don’t know what the future holds at the moment. All I know is he walked out for a woman he’s known for ten days. Until she arrived we were a normal happy family.”
Tony, who said he’s “head over heels” for Sofiia, has apologised for the heartbreak, adding: “We’re sorry for the pain we’ve caused but I’ve discovered a connection with Sofiia like I’ve never had before. I just wanted to do the right thing and she just happened to be the first person to get in touch after I joined Facebook groups for people willing to house refugees.
“We clicked right from the start – it was something neither of us could stop.”
Sofiia said: “As soon as I saw him I fancied him. It’s been very quick but this is our love story. I know people will think badly of me but it happens. I could see how unhappy Tony was.”
The pair were reportedly turfed out of his parent’s home after their story went viral yesterday.