A mother has slammed claims she dated a man 20 years her junior in a bid to steal his welfare payment after she was publicly branded a ‘Centrelink Cougar’ – and claims he broke her heart when he dumped her with a text message.
Leisa Atkinson, 44, from Caboolture in Queensland, met Andrew McInnes when he was 19 – they started dating ‘the next day’ and were together for three-and-a-half years before he ‘went to visit his mother and never came home’.
Two years later the couple’s relationship has been put under scrutiny after his mother Suzy publicly claimed Ms Atkinson lured him into her home with the promise of alcohol and cigarettes – because she wanted to claim his disability pension.
Leisa Atkinson, 44, has hit back at claims she lured vulnerable teenagers into her house with cigarettes and alcohol before ripping off their welfare benefits
The woman was publicly accused of trying to take her former fiance’s disability pension – but she insists the relationship was real and loving and not about money
She shared Facebook messages between the two from during their relationship which appear to back up her claims
Ms Atkinson is pictured here with her daughter and then-partner Andrew – she deleted all of her couple photos after the breakup
Since then the mother-of-two has been the subject of cruel jokes, has received ‘hundreds’ of death threats and taunting messages and has been abused in the street.
‘Someone sent me a message saying they wanted to slit my fat throat, others have told me to die that I won’t be missed,’ she said.
The ‘Centrelink Cougar’ story aired on A Current Affair, with Andrew’s mother and sister making teary appearances – even though the couple broke up two years ago.
Ms Atkinson told Daily Mail Australia her life ‘has been ruined’. She is also upset that she has been portrayed as a predator when the couple had a ‘meaningful’ longterm relationship.
‘I really thought we were going to make a go of it, spend our lives together,’ she said.
‘He went to his mum’s house one day, before he went to sleep that night he was telling me how much he loved me, then the next day he sent me a text saying it was over – that he loved me but couldn’t be with me anymore.
‘It was a shock and I was hurt, it broke my heart. The mother of two said the young man proposed to her after they had been together for a year.
‘He even asked my kids for permission first then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, I was so happy.’
She says she thought she would spend the rest of her life with the young man
She was left devastated after he broke up with her via text three and a half years into their relationship – and while they were planning their wedding
More messages exchanged between the couple – Andrew’s mother and sister claimed he was 17 when he met Ms Atkinson – she says he was 19
She said she will continue to slam claims she was with him for his money – and revealed it was his sense of humour and the way he could ‘turn a bad day around’ that made her love him.
‘He was an adult, I know he was younger but I do feel more comfortable with younger men – and that’s okay – but for people to be messaging me and calling me a paedophile – well that hurts because I’m not.’
Another woman, Tayla, also spoke on the program claiming her boyfriend had also fallen victim to the mother-of-two.
Since the program aired, highlighting the relationship, the woman has been labelled a paedophile and predator by her community
‘It has ruined my life’ she said and claims she is scared to leave her home alone
She has also slammed claims she had seven children living with her – and was claiming welfare payments for all of them
‘Blake did live here – he had been living at his cousins first then he came to stay with me – he knew my kids.
‘I took him in after I saw him at a shopping centre – he came up to me and asked for food and said he was hungry.
‘I felt sorry for him. If my kids needed a place to stay or were starving I would want someone to take them in but I feel like I have been betrayed.
‘I never took money from him.’ It has been claimed that Ms Atkinson had seven teenagers living with her at once, and she was taking all of their welfare payments.
‘That is untrue I have Centrelink records that show I have only ever claimed for a maximum of two children – my two children,’ she said.
The mother-of-two does currently have a 15-year-old boy in her care, and is receiving payments from Centrelink for him, but it is an arrangement agreed to by both of the boy’s parents
The mother says she initially assumed A Current Affair were doing a piece on her current boarder and was shocked when they focused on her past relationship with Andrew
She said she will continue to slam claims she was with him for his money – and revealed it was his sense of humour and the way he could ‘turn a bad day around’ that made her love him
The mother-of-two does currently have a 15-year-old boy in her care, and is receiving payments from Centrelink for him, but it is an arrangement agreed to by both of the boy’s parents.
‘When Tayla says on there that I tried to take her Centrelink money without her knowing but her mum got a notification she was telling a lie.
‘I have just had to go through the process of claiming Centrelink for the boy living with me at the moment and you need all of their paperwork and birth certificates.
‘Then both the person wanting the payment and the person currently receiving it get a letter and they have to approve it and send the letter back in.’
‘I am not a paedophile and it makes me sick that people really think that’
‘When they told me I had been under surveillance for four weeks I was terrified’
The mother hopes she will be able to get back to her life again soon without being ‘abused’ in the street
The mother says she initially assumed A Current Affair were doing a piece on her current boarder and was shocked when they focused on her past relationship with Andrew.
‘When they told me I had been under surveillance for four weeks I was terrified.
‘I hadn’t noticed they were there – and now with all these death threats I am afraid of who else is watching – I am afraid to go outside.
‘People have called me a predator and a paedophile and made fun of my appearance – it makes me feel like c**p,’ she said.
‘I am not a paedophile and it makes me sick that people really think that.
‘My daughter has been getting text messages telling me I shouldn’t be allowed near her daughter.
The people also claimed the mother ‘lived in squalor’ but in an attempt to prove them wrong the mother opened up the doors to the home
‘My own granddaughter – that is just devastating – my whole family has been turned on by the community.’
The people also claimed the mother ‘lived in squalor’ but in an attempt to prove them wrong the mother opened up the doors to the home.
‘My house is always immaculate.
‘Someone sent me a message saying they wanted to slit my fat throat, others have told me to die that I won’t be missed,’ she said
The messages are hurtful – it makes me hang my head in shame
‘And as for the wild parties – I haven’t had a party since my daughter’s 19th – which is where those photos they used were taken.
‘That’s me with her friends in one, and me her and Andrew in the other – all adults no children.’
The mother hopes she will be able to get back to her life again soon without being ‘abused’ in the street.
She has not been charged with anything relating to the allegations against her.
Andrew begged his mother Suzy to ‘give Leisa a chance’
The mother said she will think twice before opening her home up for children in the future
‘And as for the wild parties – I haven’t had a party since my daughter’s 19th'(pictured)