A retired woman who spent £100,000 on the family of her murdered Sri Lankan toyboy husband has demanded that she get her money back.
Diane Peebles, 61, from Edinburgh, was left stuck in Sri Lanka after the brutal gun murder of her partner Priyanjana De Zoysa – 33 years her junior – in 2017.
She was lucky to escape Sri Lanka alive after armed men turned up looking for her at the hotel she was staying in just before flying back to Scotland.
He was shot dead after she learned about his bigamous marriage to a local woman, reports the Daily Record.
Now she has decided to take legal action to try to get some of her assets back.
Diane spent £60,000 to build a house for her and her husband in the grounds of his parents’ home.
She was told it was difficult for a foreigner to own property in Sri Lanka so agreed to the house being put in her husband’s name.
She also spent £31,000 on a Toyota Hiace people carrier for Priyanjana to use as a taxi, as well as furnishing their home, buying furniture and gifts for his family and paying for most of their food and fuel while she lived beside them.
She said last night: “My two brothers-in-law and their wives and children are living in my home now rent-free. They don’t deserve to live there.
“That house was built on the work I put into my career over many years and I have nothing to show for it. That can’t be right.”
Diane is now seeking a Scottish lawyer to advise her, hoping that she might have some claim on her assets.
She said: “I know it’s complicated but bank records will show my money paid for the house and many other things.
“I went from being comfortable to having nothing, so even if I could claim back half of what I spent on his family, it would make a massive difference to my retirement.”
Already married to Priyanjana after a holiday romance, but returning at intervals to enjoy more holidays with him, Diane decided in 2015 to move to be with her husband.
She sold her flat in Musselburgh, East Lothian, for £105,000 and took early retirement from her job as a customer service assistant with Edinburgh City Council.
She had met Priyanjana when she was 53 and he was 20.
She said: “I was no Shirley Valentine, unhappy and looking for love.
“I had a home, a good job, family and friends. But I didn’t have a great social life, was used to travelling alone, so I wanted a bit more out of life and was easily swept off my feet.
“I couldn’t believe he was interested in me but he was very convincing.
“He pursued me, he was kind, gentle. I really thought I had a chance of love and companionship and agreed to make the move.”
Diane agreed to fund the building of their new three-bedroom home and bought the vehicle so her husband, who she had met through his work in a hotel, could work for himself.
But she soon found herself being asked to pay all the family’s expenses.
She said: “I bought them a fridge-freezer, a fan and a water purifier and it soon became the norm for me to pay for everything.
“Before too long, I was struggling and there was nothing left but my £363-a-month pension.
“But my husband kept asking for more. I thought he loved me but I was learning he loved my money more. The idyllic life I’d dreamed of wasn’t the life I was living.”
Diane realised her husband had lost interest. He excused his absences, which lasted for days, by saying he was busy working.
But in 2016 she found a Valentine’s card to him marked “to my husband”.
He claimed a friend had played a trick on him but in December of that year she discovered he had married a local woman of 18 while married to her.
In May 2017, while struggling to come to terms with the mess she found herself in, her husband was shot dead, just three weeks after his other wife’s brother had also been gunned down.
Diane remained trapped in Sri Lanka for some time longer and was still expected to fund the family’s lifestyle.
She only escaped the following year after making a handful of friends online, including a retired police chief, who helped her to leave the country and return to Scotland.
Diane said: “I hope someone can help me to get something back because after all the years I worked, I don’t deserve to be struggling.
“I’m not the first woman to fall into this kind of trap and I won’t be the last but I hope my story might make people stop and think.”