22nd May 2022 – (London) A DAD of two has run off with a Ukrainian refugee just ten days after he and his partner welcomed her into their home.
Security guard Tony Garnett, 29, walked out on Lorna, 28, after falling head over heels for 22-year-old Sofiia Karkadym.
Tony, of Bradford, West Yorks, said: “We’re planning the rest of our life together.” Sofiia Karkadym, who fled the city of Lviv at the start of the war, was given shelter in the UK by Tony.
Sofiia, 22, admitted: “As soon as I saw him I fancied him.
“It’s been very quick but this is our love story. I know people will think badly of me but it happens. I could see how unhappy Tony was.”
Dad-of-two Tony, 29, stunned partner Lorna, 28, by walking out just ten days after they welcomed Sofiia into their family home.
He told The Sun: “We’re sorry for the pain we’ve caused but I’ve discovered a connection with Sofiia like I’ve never had before.
“We’re planning the rest of our life together.”
Tony added: “I know people will think this has happened so fast, but Sofiia and I know this is right.
“It began with a simple desire from me to do the right thing and put a roof over the head of someone in need, a man or woman.
“But it was Sofiia who came into my life and that’s something I’ll always be thankful for.”
Tony signed up to the Government refugee homing scheme as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine intensified.
But he found the application process too slow so took to social media to offer help.
The security guard, who works in an NHS drop-in centre, was introduced to Sofiia on Facebook and offered to become her UK sponsor.
IT manager Sofiia travelled to Berlin where she waited weeks for her UK visa to go through.
She eventually flew into Manchester on May 4 and moved in with Tony and Lorna in Bradford, West Yorks. But her arrival sparked tensions which soon boiled over.
Tony moved his six-year-old daughter from her room into a bunk bed with her three-year-old sister to make space — despite Lorna’s objections.
Then, as they lived together, Tony and Sofiia fell for one another.
Tony and Lorna’s daughters also took to Sofiia, but Lorna grew resentful of the bond they immediately formed.
Finally, Lorna ordered Sofiia to leave — and Tony followed.
He said: “I wanted to do the right thing and she (Sofiia) just happened to be the first person to get in touch after I joined Facebook groups for people willing to house refugees.
“My grandfather fled Russia to start a new life in the UK 60 years ago and without the help of others he’d never have made it to start a new life.
“If we were invaded we’d hope the rest of the world would step in to help us. That’s all I wanted to do, but things have taken a very unexpected twist.”
Tony explained: “It was obvious from the start that Sofiia and I just clicked. I speak a little Slovakian and it’s not dissimilar to Ukrainian so I was able to make myself understood to her in her language.
“But if anything that made things worse because Lorna didn’t know what we were talking about. Sofiia and I would sit and chat, have a drink and watch TV with Ukrainian subtitles, sometimes after Lorna had gone to bed.
“We were getting on brilliantly but at that time it was no more than that — although I can see why Lorna started to feel jealous and resentful of her.”
Sofiia began accompanying Tony to the gym in Bradford, where they would work out together and then sit talking in his car on the top floor of a multi-storey car park.
Tony said: “I knew something was happening between us and that Sofiia felt the same — it was something neither of us could stop.
“We would sit in the car after going to the gym and we’d sit talking and laughing as we looked across the city.
“At home I realised we were finding excuses to touch and brush against each other, it was very flirtatious but nothing more than that happened at that stage.
“Although it was fairly innocent it was causing arguments. I can understand that. When I got in at night Sofiia would be the one who had made a meal for me to try.
“She told me privately, ‘Lorna is lucky to have you’.”
Lorna, who changed her surname by deed poll to match Tony’s but is not married to him, was becoming increasingly angry.
Tony continued: “She started to get very jealous and was having major arguments with Sofiia, asking her why she was with me all the time and ‘Why are you following him around?’. The atmosphere was getting really bad and Sofiia told me she didn’t know whether she could continue to live with us under these circumstances.
“Lorna was never that enthusiastic about having a refugee in our home because it meant the girls had to move into one room.
“But seeing that we were becoming close was too much. It came to a head last Saturday when she really went for Sofiia, yelling at her, using some harsh language that left her in tears. She said she didn’t feel she could stay under our roof any more and something inside me clicked.
“I told Lorna, ‘If she’s going, I’m going’. I knew I couldn’t give her up and all of a sudden it seemed like a no-brainer.
“We both packed our bags and moved into my mum and dad’s home together.”
The couple have started viewing properties, concentrating on trendy city centre apartments and have begun applying for a permanent visa for Sofiia.
Tony said: “I am so sorry for what Lorna is going through, this was not her fault and it was not about anything she did wrong.
“We never set out to do this, it wasn’t planned and we didn’t mean to hurt anyone.”