Lisanne Meadowcroft was eighteen when in 1990 she left her Greater Manchester home seeking a new life abroad. Working for a British couple, selling art prints in southern Italy, Lisanne’s adventure looked to be short-lived when, after just two weeks with no sales, she faced being sent home. That’s when fate brought her to the attention of finance company boss Dario Moretti, who took an immediate shine to her, not only buying prints in exchange for dinner but also offering her a job with his firm and accommodation at his luxury villa.
A wide-eyed innocent – not suspecting Moretti, 20 years her senior, had an ulterior motive – Lisanne accepted and for two months worked as his PA, joining him as he collected cash payments from ‘clients’. Slowly, however, Lisanne discovered a darker side to Moretti – he had a dubious past, had a wife and children living elsewhere and he appeared to wield great power and influence over those who owned him money. Her worst fears were realised when she then found a cache of guns, banknotes and explosives in a secret safe.
Suddenly, Moretti’s mask of geniality slipped, and he ‘punished’ Lisanne by subjecting her at gunpoint to a brutal sexual assault, chillingly telling her she now had ‘one foot in the Mafia.’ So began months of physical and psychological torture, as Moretti routinely raped Lisanne, threatening to harm her and her family if she defied him.
Over the next four years, she:
Fell pregnant and had to organise a termination to get rid of the monster’s baby
Tried to kill herself as the misery of her life pushed her to breaking point
Feared for her life after discovering people who crossed him had mysteriously died
Realised the explosives she found were likely used in a Mafia bombing campaign
Initially living on her wits to survive, Lisanne eventually managed to break free of the stranglehold Moretti had on her life when he was put under house arrest following a bomb attack. Finally, after forging an unlikely bond with a British pop star, who was on tour at the time, she was able to flee Italy.
n the 30 years since, Lisanne became a mother and narrowly escaped another brush with a Mafia figure before settling down in her native north-west and becoming a dedicated healthcare worker. Remarkably, she has never told the story of her time in Italy – until now.
Douglas Wight is the author or ghostwriter of fifteen non-fiction books, most recently Son of Escobar (Ad Lib, 2020) an Amazon number 1 bestseller, The Bad Room (Harper Element, 2020), Into the Bear Pit (Arena Sport, 2020) and Against My Will (Harper Element, 2020).
His previous books include The Laundry Man (Penguin, 2012), the memoir of Ken Rijock, a Miami-based money launderer for Colombian drug smugglers; the autobiography of Olympic gold medal winning hockey player Sam Quek (White Owl, 2018), which was long-listed for the Telegraph Sports Autobiography of the Year 2019; Unforgivable (...
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Born in Cambridge in 1971, Lisanne has spent most of her life in the north-west of England. Educated at a Catholic school in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, she first worked abroad as a live-in nanny for an Italian family in Milan for ten months in 1988.
Although she enrolled on a performing arts course at college, she left to return to Italy in spring 1990 after landing a job selling art prints. Just two weeks into her new adventure, Lisanne met Dario, the Mafia boss who groomed and controlled her. She spent the next four years in Italy before finally managing to escape in 1994.
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