The wedding of travellers Josie McFadyen and Swanley Smith became one of the most watched TV show in the history of Channel 4 when it was shown as part of the channel’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings series.
However, breaking with traveller tradition, 18 year old Josie and 21 year old Swanley – who have daughter, also named Josie – have parted ways, and according to Josie, Swanley’s deceptions during their short marriage, which ended when she found out he’d secretly given half of their savings to his family, and spent the rest on himself, have left her “in shock.”
She told The Sun, “I am in shock. I’m 18, with a baby and getting divorced. I feel I can never trust another man with anything.”
Last September, the couple were awarded compensation amounting to £105,000 by Surrey County Council after the site they were living on was declared contaminated.
Of that, Josie said, “We were offered compensation, either a new plot or the money.
“Swanley decided to take the money and it was a curse from day one…
“He’d never had a bank account but he’d set one up a few weeks before and put it in there.
“I did think, ‘Why would he do that without telling me?’ But he was my husband and I loved him.
“I didn’t ever think he was going to do me wrong. I trusted him every way a woman can trust a man.”
Josie told the paper that she “never saw a penny” of the compensation payout, but adds taht Swanley treated himself to thousands of pounds worth of Xbox games and a £13,000 Rolex watch.
She added, “He told me the money was being paid in two installments of just over £50,000.
“But there was just one payment in our bank account — which I wasn’t allowed a card for — and the money was disappearing.
“He spent £1,000 on computer games in one day, but my mammy would come down with tracksuits and trainers for me because Swanley never had any money to buy me maternity clothes.
“Some days we only had milk for the baby and some beans to eat. I kept asking him when the rest of the money was coming and he kept putting me off.
“I eventually went to the council and I realised he had been lying. I went to the bank and got a statement for the account, which was in both our names.
“It showed he had transferred half of the money into another account then, from there, to his sister’s account.
“If he came back to me with £1million and said, ‘I’m sorry’, it would be too late. I wouldn’t take him back.”
Josie then revealed that when she married Swanley in 2010, when she was just 16, initially, their lives seemed idyllic, however, that soon changed.
She explained, “Swanley swept me off my feet. He was the perfect man. We were going to see the world together.
“It was like a fairytale, but it was too good to be true. I was so in love with being in love, I didn’t stand back and look at the situation.
“[But when] we moved into a trailer next to his family at a site in Caterham, Surrey, Swanley just changed overnight.
“I was supposed to be a lady of leisure bringing my little girl up and he was supposed to provide for his family.
“But I spent four-and-a-half hours a day cleaning and he stopped going to work.
“I felt like his servant, cleaning up after him all the time. But it’s not the thing to be divorced, so I tried to make it work.”
She added of Swanley, “He was addicted to computer games and spent more time playing them than with me and little Josie.
“He would sleep for only two or three hours on the floor downstairs and would get up at 5am. The game would never have been off.
“I didn’t want him around me, so I would stay upstairs. He’d smoke a cigarette and flick it on the floor.
“There would be 40 or 50 fags in the fireplace the next morning.”
However, Josie says that she actually pities Swanley, because he’s now lost her and his daughter.
She said, “I don’t want him to live his life like that because I care about him, it’s really sad. He should get help.
“It’s not good for him to be living in a virtual world. I do pity him. I don’t have any hate towards him, I feel sorry for him.
“But he was bringing me down with him. If I could fix him, I would. I tried to.
“In our world your husband comes first, he is your first family, if you had to pick and choose.
“But I have a feeling he would never have chosen me over his family.
“Since I left a few weeks ago I’ve realised that I love him because he’s my little girl’s dad — but I’m not in love with him…
“I’m glad I married him because I have got a lovely little girl and my brother John met his wife Cheyenne at my wedding.
“But Swanley couldn’t provide for me, he couldn’t take care of me, he couldn’t do anything for me.
“I was holding on to something that didn’t want to be there. It’s like water falling out of your hands, slowly, slowly.
“I just never felt like his wife, I felt like his maid. He would tell me I was too skinny and if I had a bit of weight on, I would be too fat.
“He was telling me I looked old and ugly. If we did go to the pub, he would limit me to two drinks. I can’t remember the last time I laughed with Swanley.
“I always wanted to be happy with Swanley, but it came to a point where I saw friends who were really in love and they had been married for five or six years and I thought, ‘Is everyone else like that?’
“If he did love me, he had a very strange way of showing it.
“Since I left he hasn’t been to see Josie. How could he not want to be with his little girl? That hurts me more than anything else.
“I don’t want my little girl to get married until she’s about 22. I would advise her — don’t jump into something when you’re in love with the idea of being in love.
“I was in love but it didn’t work out. But I want people to know why I’m getting divorced.
“It’s not because I married too young — I know lots of traveller girls who are still married after years.
“No one is perfect. If you’re not meant to be together, you’re not meant to be together.
“I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off me, not because I wanted out of the marriage — I didn’t — but now I only have one baby to look after and not two.”
Josie, who’s now living with her mum and dad at their home in Middlesex, concluded, “My first aim is to be a really good mum and to know my little girl has everything she needs and that she doesn’t feel left out.
“I can’t think about my future at the moment. It’s me and her now.”