Sunday, October 11, 2020

Woman tracked down birth father - only to find he'd tried to kill her as a toddler

Chloe Wilkinson was adopted as a child and discovered when she tried to trace her real dad that he had been jailed for trying to kill her when she was just 2 years old.



A woman adopted as a child today tells how she traced her real dad on a school computer – and found he’d gone to jail for trying to kill her when she was just two years old.



Chloe Wilkinson from Bexhill-on-Sea who's father Gary MacManus was imprisoned after he was found guilty of giving toddler Chloe painkillers back in 2003.



Chloe Wilkinson made the chilling discovery as a 12-year-old schoolgirl by reading a court report telling how he’d given her a deadly overdose of adult painkillers and slapped her face hard.

Devastated, she wanted to believe his defence – blaming her for accidentally swallowing the 16 tablets thinking they were sweets.

So she tracked him down at 14 to ask him face to face.

But it all ended badly and disability support worker Chloe, now 19 and a mum herself, only had the truth confirmed two years later – through damning evidence in a photograph.

Chloe says: “I always felt a massive sense of rejection growing up and was very curious about my past.



"I didn’t have the best relationship with my adoptive family and built a picture of my real parents being amazing people who made a massive mistake.

“When I asked my adoptive mother about them, all she would say was my mum had me at 16 and my dad was a bad man.

“I was convinced she was lying and decided to investigate using the library computer at school.”



Gary MacManus was jailed for trying to kill Chloe when she was small.



The report of the case at Maidstone Crown Court said her father Gary MacManus, then 21, had custody of Chloe after splitting from her mum when the attack happened in November 2003.

His girlfriend at the time rushed the tot to hospital.

Police found only adult fingerprints on the pills box. Her binman dad was jailed for five years for assault causing actual bodily harm and administering a noxious thing so as to endanger life.

“When I read it, I was in shock,” says Chloe. “The reality was a world away from what I’d imagined.”



But she could not bring herself to fully believe her own father had harmed her.

Her relationship with her adoptive family then broke down and she went back into care – but still hungry for the truth she tracked down her birth mother on Facebook and they arranged to meet.

The reunion began with hugs and tears but Chloe, of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, was furious when her mum told her she had given custody of her to her father despite knowing he had a volatile temper.



Chloe Wilkinson tracked down her dad on a school computer.



The disability support worker said: “I didn’t feel any closure, I just had more questions. When she told me my real dad had been in touch and asked about me, I told her to pass on my number so I could get answers.”

With the help of social services, Chloe arranged to meet MacManus at a Harvester restaurant in 2015 when she was 14 and confront him about the night she nearly died.

He had served half his five-year sentence before marrying and having another child.

Chloe says: “He was at a table. I wasn’t scared as I had my residential worker with me and had no intention of building a relationship with him.

“He seemed normal and nice as we made small talk, not the sort of person who could mistreat a child. It threw me massively.

"When I asked about what happened, he denied he had given me the tablets and blamed me. He didn’t show a shred of remorse.



"After two hours, I felt more confused than ever and angry he had got on with his life while I was still in limbo.”

Later Chloe sent him a last-ditch text begging for the truth. MacManus told her to believe what she wanted to believe.

It wasn’t until December 2017 that she finally received evidence of the attack from her adoptive mother. “I was 16 then and she said I could claim compensation as a crime victim. She gave me paperwork from the case.

“When I opened it, I wept. There was a photo of my tiny, bruised face. The proof I needed. It made me feel sick.”

Three years on, Chloe is married to builder Matt, 31. They have two children. But she still struggles with the life-changing attack she can’t remember.



She said: “I’ve craved a loving family. Now I’ve got one. I watch my husband with our children and see how a real dad should be. It’s bittersweet. I’ll never get the truth from my dad. He had his chance. I don’t need to hear from him again.”