A MAN has won £25,000 (€30,000) in damages for "bereavement" after his wife tricked him into believing that two children he raised until they were teenagers were his rather than the products of affairs.
Richard Rodwell sued his former wife, Helen (44), for deceit after finding out that the children he thought were his son and daughter both had a different father.
The 46-year-old factory manager from Peterborough, England, said it was "like a bereavement because I have lost the children I believed were mine".
"I can't stop thinking about the children as they were my life," he told a newspaper. "I always wanted children and grandchildren, and now it's too late in life for me."
Mr Rodwell helped to raise Laura and Adam as his own until his marriage broke down and the couple divorced in 2004. His former wife was granted custody, and Mr Rodwell paid £300 (€360) a month maintenance for the children for four years.
But after hearing rumours that Laura, now 20, was not his daughter, he confronted her mother and ordered DNA tests in 2008.
"When I saw the letter stating that I wasn't Laura's father I broke down," he told the paper.
"I treated them both as if they were my own. I was there at their births, went to their nativity plays and helped them with school homework.
"The children were the most important people in my life, and now they have gone."
He added that he would have been happy to have a close relationship with the children as a stepfather, but said his former wife would not allow this.
"She didn't even say sorry," he said. "It's so sad."
The couple met in 1989 when they were both fruit-pickers at a factory in Norfolk and married the following year.
But by 2004, Mr Rodwell said, the marriage was struggling, with his then wife disappearing for several days with no explanation.
In court documents, he told how Laura's attitude towards him changed after the DNA test.
He said: "She didn't come to see me, and if I saw her in the street she would make obscene gestures."
Mr Rodwell, who has remarried, was awarded compensation of £12,500 for each child, along with £25,000 costs.