A police officer who was forced to resign after falling for a man who turned out to be an armed robber has claimed her male colleagues “ganged up on her”.
Jill Owens, then Evans, was a highly respected officer with a rural Welsh police force when she went in search of romance on an online dating site in the early 2000s.
The two-times divorcee eventually got talking to Dean Jenkins – a seemingly self-made businessman from Kent who had his own range of male grooming products.
After a whirlwind relationship, Ms Owens was told in November 2006 that Jenkins had been arrested for his role as the getaway driver in a robbery gang that had stolen £339,000 in multiple targeted raids on building societies.
The heists, which also involved Jenkins’ dad David, a former special constable and an ex-Securicor guard, saw Jenkins given a 17-year sentence for his involvement.
Jenkins’ crimes would signal the end of Ms Owens’ career with Dyfed-Powys Police, which she joined in 1990.
She claims she was treated unfairly by the force and believes she would have been offered more support were this to happen today.
Kent Police interviewed her after her boyfriend’s arrest about her knowledge of Jenkins and she was put under investigation by professional standards.
She said: “Every time I was interviewed by Dyfed-Powys it would be by men, often two or three senior officers at the same time. It was like a gang approach, and I was vulnerable.
“They told me I should have known because the names of two of his shower gels were Beat the Filth and It’s a Stick Up. I mean I just thought it was clever marketing.”
In late 2008, she says she was “required to resign”.
Now 54, the mother-of-three’s ordeal has been made into a six-part podcast series by Wondery and Novel called Stolen Hearts.
Reflecting 15 years later on the impact it had on her life, she said: “I had no idea when I hit that send button where my life would head.
“I was a police sergeant. I did not think I’d ever start talking with an armed robber. What are the chances of that?
“When it happened it was like a bomb went off, destroying everything I’d ever known.”
‘Starstruck’ by his lavish lifestyle
Ms Owens said she was completely unaware of Jenkins’ double life, but was still affected by the belief people held that she had in some way known.
“Even when I look back and ask myself was there anything I could have picked up on? There is absolutely nothing,” she said.
“Everything seemed to add up to what he said he was, a successful businessman.”
After their first date in a pub in Cardiff, the couple began to meet up every other weekend, and Jenkins surprised her with an expensive holiday to Italy where he took her to the Cosmoprof beauty trade show.
At the time Jenkins had a men’s toiletries company which included a range called the Guvnor, which was sold in Superdrug.
Ms Owens said she was “starstruck” by the lavish lifestyle Jenkins introduced her to, including meals in expensive restaurants with representatives of TV shopping channel QVC.
‘The thrill of playing with the danger’
Ms Owens said she visited Jenkins in prison but never got the answers she wanted from him.
“I’ve always thought that there were two possible reasons he was with me. Either it was the thrill of playing with the danger of dating a police officer, or he genuinely had feelings for me,” she said.
Producers interviewed Jenkins for the podcast and Ms Owens said she was surprised by what he said.
“I can’t say too much, but what he says in the last episode really made me sit back. I was sitting in my work van listening to it and I thought ‘wow’,” she said.
She now lives with her son Frankie and her husband Rod, who she met in 2012 on the day Wales won the rugby Six Nations Grand Slam.
Stolen Hearts, the podcast from Wondery and Novel, is available on all podcast services.