EXCLUSIVE Prison reform boss stole best friend’s partner

A prison reform boss jailed for subjecting her husband to 20 years of humiliating abuse and assaults stole the partner of her best friend who let her live in their home.

Businesswoman Caroline Grant told how Sheree Spencer drank mugs of wine at 7am and spent evenings drunkenly flirting with her partner, Adrian Taylor.

Ms Grant told MailOnline: ‘When Sheree’s marriage broke down, I was the only person who stood by her, and she thanked me by stealing my partner.’

Spencer, 45, was locked up for four years for making her husband Richard Spencer’s life a living hell with daily beatings and verbal attacks that left him cowering on the floor in the foetal position.

A judge called her treatment of him ‘the worst case of coercive and controlling behaviour I have seen.’

Businesswoman Caroline Grant (pictured) told how Sheree Spencer drank mugs of wine at 7am and spent her evenings drunkenly flirting with her man

Heavy-drinking mother-of-three Sheree Spencer was locked up for four years after making husband Richard's life a living hell with daily beatings and verbal attacks

Heavy-drinking mother-of-three Sheree Spencer was locked up for four years after making husband Richard’s life a living hell with daily beatings and verbal attacks

Ms Grant, 46, at first turned a blind eye to Spencer’s chemistry with Mr Taylor, 52, a baker and father of her seven-year-old daughter.

She said: ‘From the moment she arrived in our home, she and Adrian were drinking together and acting like a pair of giddy teenagers around each other.

‘Even though there were alarm bells sounding, I felt sure that nothing would happen after I’d given her a home in her time of need.

‘But Sheree only cares about Sheree. She seduced Adrian from right under my nose.’

Ms Grant met Spencer, a high-ranking official in the prisons and probation service, when their daughters became friends at school just outside York.

The girls had play dates and their mothers became friends. But Ms Grant was surprised to find she was the person that Spencer turned to when her marriage to Mr Spencer, 46, came to an end.

Adrian Taylor (pictured) was seduced by Sheree Spencer

Adrian Taylor (pictured) was seduced by Sheree Spencer

Unknown to Ms Grant, the police were investigating Spencer for her treatment of Mr Spencer, which included beating him with a wine bottle, scratching, punching and kicking him and forcing him to clean up after her when she had defecated on the floor.

Ms Grant, a relocation specialist, only knew that Spencer and her husband were separating.

She said: ‘When I eventually became aware of what she had been doing to Richard, like everyone else I was horrified. But by then she was already living in my home and was settled.

‘In July 2021, she told me she was staying with a friend because she and Richard had split up. 

‘She said it wasn’t a particularly good situation because she was having to share a room with her friend’s son.

‘I invited her to spend a night at mine and Adrian’s home, but as it turned out she would end up spending months with us.

‘She blamed Richard – the poor man whose life she had actually ruined – for the split, saying he had faked evidence which had got her arrested.

‘I believed everything she told me. It’s hard to describe how incredibly plausible she is, she’s a skilled liar and I believed what she said.

‘That first night she was here, she and Adrian started drinking wine and got smashed together. It should have been a warning sign at the very start, but I just couldn’t see that.’

Spencer made herself comfortable at Ms Grant’s large, detached home on the outskirts of York. She worked from home in her high-flying role as a project manager in the strategic development department with HM Prisons and Probation Service.

It was a role that brought her into contact with the highest levels and government and she bragged meetings with former prime minister Boris Johnson. 

Ms Grant said: ‘She told me she worked two-and-a-half days a week for a salary of £55,000, which was an incredible waste of taxpayers’ money because she spent her days getting drunk.

‘I saw her one morning with a mug of wine at 7am. This was supposed to be a working day but she spent her days lying in bed with a bottle of wine, it’s incredible that she kept a publicly-funded job.

‘She did so by giving a sob story about her marriage breaking down, but that was nowhere near the whole truth.’

Spencer was jailed on February 24 following proceedings at Hull Crown Court

Spencer was jailed on February 24 following proceedings at Hull Crown Court

Pictured: Richard Spencer, who was subjected to abuse from his ex-wife Spencer

Pictured: Richard Spencer, who was subjected to abuse from his ex-wife Spencer

Ms Grant and her father Gerry, 76, who lives with her, began to become suspicious that Spencer and Adrian were becoming too close.

She said: ‘They were spending their time getting drunk every night. They liked to sit in a garden room we have which we call The Cabin and would be up swearing and shouting and laughing long after I had gone to bed.

‘I knew my dad was starting to have concerns, but I told myself that neither of them would do such a thing under the roof of our family home. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

‘It’s such a betrayal – I even gave up the master bedroom for her so that she would be comfortable.’

Her father said: ‘I started to feel as though something was going on. I’d see them sitting under a blanket together and it seemed to me as though they might be getting amorous.

‘I said to Caroline that I had my suspicions about them, it just didn’t seem right. She was loud and swore and drank all the time and she tried to get me to lend her £12,000 for legal fees. I was on the verge of doing it but I’m so glad I didn’t.’

Ms Grant’s suspicions were aroused further when Spencer began sharing details of her dealings with men.

She said: ‘Sheree told me she’d cheated numerous times on Richard. She liked to go to Leeds and hook up with younger men, that was her way of getting kicks.

‘She also said she’d had an affair with a married man who was helping her with money.’

Spencer stayed with Ms Grant until October 2021, when she was arrested for the years of abusing her husband.

At that point she moved into a house in Market Weighton, East Yorkshire.

Ms Grant said: ‘I was asking Adrian whether he and Sheree were having an affair and he denied it despite spending so much time at her new home. 

‘People will think I was naive but I’m a trusting person and I believed it until he eventually told me just before Christmas, “Yes we’ve been having an affair and I’m in love with her”.

‘He moved out on Boxing Day 2021 and moved in with Sheree. It was as though she was some kind of trophy on his arm, he introduced her to his family soon afterwards, he’d moved on completely.

‘We’d been together since 2014 but he’d fallen hook, line and sinker for Sheree and despite living in my home she had reciprocated.’

The only satisfaction Ms Grant can take from Spencer’s time with her is that one member of her household meted out some summary justice – her cockerel The Godfather.

She said: ‘The Godfather hated Sheree from the start and would attack her whenever she left the house. On one occasion, she fell over and he flew at her, pecking her head.

‘I take a little bit of satisfaction from that, The Godfather is clearly a better judge of character than I was. I’m lucky to be rid of both of them from my life and my daughter and I and my dad are very happy together in our home.’

Mr Taylor accompanied Spencer to hearings at Hull Crown Court which culminated in her being jailed on February 24 for four years.

The court heard she had subjected Mr Spencer to abuse just weeks after their relationship began in 2000 and it carried on until she was forced to leave the family home as police became involved.

On one occasion, she defecated on the floor and forced him to clean it up and on another, she beat him with a wine bottle so hard it permanently disfigured his ear.

When her husband went for hospital help, she made him sign in at A&E using her brother’s name under the threat he would not be allowed back into the family home if he defied her.

In furious wine-fuelled tirades, she would call him ‘fat boy,’ ‘a p***y’ and ‘dumb dumb’ and caused bruises and scratches that he would need to cover with make-up before going outside.

For years, he secretly recorded video and audio of his wife’s attacks on him and when police became involved, he handed over 43 images of his bruised face, taken on different dates following assaults.

Judge Kate Rayfield told Spencer: ‘In one of these recordings, it is clear you had defecated on the floor. Your husband can be heard scrubbing while you are heard to say to him, “I made you do that, all I asked you to do was go to the shop”.

‘I watched as you spat in his face time and time again and called him ‘b***h, tiny c*** and skank and insulted members of his family.

‘You whispered in his face in the most sinister way, shouted demands and instructions at him, “Get the f*****g chicken on, get to the f*****g shop” and warning him, “you will learn”.’

The judge added: ‘By your actions you intended to humiliate or degrade Richard and you have caused him significant psychological harm. Richard Spencer was a vulnerable victim, isolated from his family and trapped financially.’

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