Little Ted Nursery worker Laura*, 48, met Vanessa George through a friend and they quickly forged a tight bond. But then the news of the child porn horror story broke and her life changed forever…
In Laura’s eyes Vanessa seemed like an ordinary, middle aged mum-of-two when she met her in a playground.
Immediately Laura took a shine to her, they seemed to have things in common, their daughters were the same age and Vanessa was bubbly and funny.
As she stood casually chatting to Vanessa, Laura could not have imagined the impact this seemingly innocent and friendly woman would have on her life and the lives of young children in her care.
Laura worked at Little Ted’s nursery in Plymouth and it wasn’t until the 7th of September 2006, when Vanessa started a job at the same nursery, that the two became close friends.
Over the next 18 months Laura happily welcomed Vanessa into her home and never doubted that she could trust her.
Laura said: “I don’t drive and Vanessa does so when my daughter was younger she would pick her up and take her to brownies.
“Thinking about that now makes my skin crawl, it’s horrible to think of what might have happened but my daughter assures me that Vanessa has never tried to touch her.
“I also noticed she was quite inappropriate with my sons who are 27 and 17. She would act flirtatiously and suggestively – she once tried to show my 17-year-old naked pictures of herself on her phone and I got really angry with her.”
Vanessa told Laura there were two men in Plymouth she would meet up with for sex- a one night stand and another who Vanessa had a regular ‘arrangement’ with.
She soon realised that Vanessa was telling her husband she was at Laura’s house when she was meeting up with men.
When Vanessa met Colin Blanchard in late December on the internet she told Laura about him within days of contacting him.
Laura remembers: “Vanessa said she loved Colin but I think it was more like an obsession. She would giggle like a teenager in love as she texted him but I thought it was innocent.
“Now I look back on those times and wonder what she was actually texting him – it could have been pictures, he could have been egging her on – while I was sitting right next to her.”
On Saturday the 7th of June this year Vanessa called Laura to ask if she could cover for her if Andrew phoned while she met up with a man for sex.
Laura said: “I was really annoyed but agreed to do it, she was my friend and she was feeling low. She came to my house later that day for about an hour.
“That was the last time I saw her.”
The later that week every member of staff at Little Ted’s nursery received a phone call out of the blue from their boss informing them not to go to work.
Laura said: “I had no idea what was going on so I phoned Vanessa, she didn’t answer so I left her a message but she didn’t reply so I texted her.”
She never heard back.
“I panicked, thinking something had happened to her, she was always contactable.
“My first thought was that Andrew had found out about the other men and got angry with her, maybe hurt her but it was even worse.
“My boss told me the police had sent a letter detailing that someone who worked at the nursery was taking indecent images of children – it was Vanessa.
“Then we were all called to the police station and I broke down when they told us the news.
“It makes me feel sick to think of what she did to those children, to say I’m disgusted is an understatement.”
As Laura looks back over the past 18 months she wishes she could see tell-tale signs of Vanessa’s true character but she can’t.
The police told Laura she was groomed and manipulated by Vanessa.
She explains: “I’ve been trying to think of instances when Vanessa might have had an opportunity to abuse the children and the only times it could have happened was if she took a child to the bathroom, or maybe during nappy changing time – she was quite big so maybe she was able to hide what she was actually doing from us.”
Vanessa showed no signs of remorse in court and Laura was disgusted to find out that she had used an implement that she had stolen from Laura’s house to abuse the children.
She said: “She manipulated all of us, she wasn’t who she said she was and she has ruined so many lives.
“I know it has been reported that Colin Blanchard egged her on to do those horrible things but no one forced her to do it, she made those decisions and she needs to face the consequences.
“I do believe she was infatuated with him though and would do anything to please him.
“We will never get over this, these poor parents will never send their children to another nursery and she has destroyed the careers of the staff who worked at Little Ted’s.
“When the news broke and I saw all the parents’ faces standing outside the police station and nursery in protest it broke my heart.
“Out of everyone that worked at Little Ted’s Vanessa was the children’s favourite nursery nurse and they would run up to hug her whenever they saw her.
“She has not only ruined those young children’s lives and their families’ lives, she has destroyed an entire community.”