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Wednesday, 08 April 2020

My boyfriend kept me prisoner for hours and smothered me with a pillow…I built a panic room so it’ll never happen again

boyfriend-kept-me-prisoner

Diane Morris, 50, was beaten by Roger Collins and smothered with a pillow, leaving her so scared she was forced to pee in a salad bowl.

 
Diane Morris was kept prisoner by her boyfriend in a brutal five-hour ordealCredit: Joel Goodman

The brutal thug locked Diane in her house in Warrington, Cheshire, and snapped her phone wires, leaving her with no way to escape.

Collins was found guilty of false imprisonment and actual bodily harm and jailed for 18 months last month.

Now settled in a new home, Diane has built a panic room in her downstairs cupboard - so she can always hide and call for help if the worst happens.

The room has an emergency iPhone, battery charger, three locks on the door and is kitted out with a camping chair, blanket and snacks like water, Coke and sweets.

 
She built a panic room in the downstairs cupboard in her new house in Warrington, Cheshire, so it will never happen againCredit: Joel Goodman

The mum-of-three said: “I used to be an outgoing, sociable person but now I rarely leave my home. I keep in touch with my family over video chats.

“Roger is a predator, who finds vulnerable victims over internet dating sites and sets out to destroy them.

“It was sickening in court to hear he has a list of convictions against previous partners. He had already found his next girlfriend before he and I separated, and I fear for her.

“I want other women to see his face and be warned. I have been through a horrific ordeal, but I also know I am lucky to be alive.

“My home should be the one place where I feel secure but, thanks to him, I just don’t feel safe.”

Roger took the pillow and smothered me with it four times. I am asthmatic and I thought I was going to die

Diane Morris50

Diane met Collins in November 2018 on Plenty Of Fish dating site. The pair hit it off and he soon moved in with her.

Diane said: “I fell for his accent, he had a North East twang, and he seemed genuine and caring.

“He told me from the start he had a conviction for violence but explained he had been trying to stop a fight and was caught up in the middle of it.

“I believed him. I have worked as a carer for many years and I always try to see the good in people.

“I met his family and they were lovely, I really felt we had a future together.”

 
 
The couple went to Tenerife in May with her Postcode Lottery winningsCredit: Focus Features

Last May, the couple travelled to Tenerife to celebrate Diane’s 50th birthday - funded by her £1,000 win on the Postcode lottery.

Collins didn't chip in for the trip at all - and didn't even buy Diane a birthday present.

By now, she was beginning to see cracks in their relationship. She said: “Roger didn’t work, but he was happy to spend all my money.

“I put him on the electoral roll at my house and I was flooded with fines and bills for him. I realised he was in a lot of trouble financially.

“He was possessive and jealous too; he didn’t like me seeing my family and friends, not even my children. He drove everyone away.”

 
Diane's panic room has a spare phone, battery powered charger, a camping chair, drinks and snacks in itCredit: Joel Goodman

But there was worse to come. Diane said: “Roger had left an iPad lying around and my six-year-old granddaughter was playing games on it.

“To my horror, there was a pop up for a porn site.

“I checked the iPad and Roger was paying to use disgusting porn sites. I confronted him and he tried to explain it away, but my mind was made up.

“I asked him to start looking for somewhere else to live. I didn’t end the relationship with him outright because I didn’t want him to fly off the handle.

“I wanted to manage it carefully. But I knew there was no way back.”

I was so frightened I had to urinate in a salad bowl from the kitchen. It was completely humiliating but I was terrified

Diana Morris50

In September, the couple went for a drink in their local pub, but Diane came home early after Roger objected to her saying 'hello' to one of her son’s friends.

Diane said: “He got worse when we got home, and I went upstairs to get away from him. I was sitting on the bed, in my pyjamas, and he came in and shoved me back onto the bed.

“He got on top of me and held me down, screaming in my face.

“Then he grabbed my dad’s pillow, which he knew was sentimental to me, and held it over my face.

“My dad had died from cancer on my birthday in 2013 and we had been very close. I treasured that pillow.

“Roger knew that, but he took the pillow and smothered me with it four times.

“I was thrashing out, trying to claw at his face. I am asthmatic and I thought I was going to die.

“My heart was hammering and I was choking, struggling to breathe.

“He took the pillow away but punched me hard in the jaw, which stunned me.

“I managed somehow to scramble off the bed and I kicked him as hard as I could between the legs, to give myself time.

“I got downstairs, but he was too quick for me. He grabbed my phone and my keys and locked all the doors and windows. Then he snapped the landline and went back upstairs.

“I could feel my face swelling and I knew I needed to see a doctor. I’d had a brain bleed years earlier after a fall, so I knew I was vulnerable.

“I was absolutely terrified. I was downstairs with no way of escaping and no way of calling for help. He just stayed upstairs, I didn’t know if he was even awake.

“I was so frightened of going up there to the bathroom that I had to urinate in a salad bowl from the kitchen. It was completely humiliating but I was terrified.”

 
 
Luckily, her son Mitch raised the alarm when his mum was held captive - having popped by her house on his way home from workCredit: Focus Features

At 1am, Diane’s son Mitch stopped by her house on his way home from work, wanting to store his DJ equipment in her spare room.

He raised the alarm and Diane was taken to hospital, while Collins was arrested.

Diane said: “Even after the attack, he messaged me and came to see me. I found it really hard to get rid of him for good, he had a hold over me.

“I found out he was seeing a new girlfriend and I tried to warn her, but she wouldn’t listen.”

Diane was haunted by flashbacks from the ordeal and had to move to a new home - where she made sure she was prepared for the worst.

 
Diane is now happily in a relationship with her new partner, AlanCredit: Joel Goodman

WHERE CAN I GET HELP?

You don't have to suffer in silence.

If you are experiencing domestic violence or someone you know is there are groups that can help.

Refuge runs a free, 24-hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.

You can also visit the website or contact Women’s Aid.

She said: “I have a large cupboard in my hallway, so I stocked it with bottles of water and food, camping chairs, a torch, a spare phone and charger, and duplicate door keys.

“I got extra locks on my doors and windows and security lights.

“I was so afraid, I hardly went out. I found it an ordeal just to go to the shops or to see the doctor.”

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