Vanessa George has been released from prison this week
The last time Vanessa George was seen in public she was standing in the dock at Bristol Crown Court, listening to the hate-filled screams of parents whose babies and toddlers had once been entrusted to her care.
The former nursery worker had just been given an 'indeterminate' prison sentence for abusing children as young as 18 months old at the Plymouth nursery where she worked.
She swapped photographs of the abuse with other paedophiles she met online.
That decision, declared Mr Justice Royce to the court, meant that even though the mother of two would be eligible for parole in seven years, he was passing what was 'in effect a life sentence'.
Devastated parents present that day understood him to mean George would be locked up for a very long time indeed.
No wonder, then, that this week, as the 49-year-old was released from prison less than ten years after she entered it, many of them were feeling utterly let down by the justice system and questioning how they could have been so misled.
'In court we were told she'd be put away for a long time,' one mother told me this week. 'What has happened is a complete betrayal of all our children and us.
'We can't believe she is now free while we have been left with a lifelong legacy of grief. The feelings of horror and guilt never go away. It's a torment to know she is out.'
The 41-year-old mother's son, who was nearly three years old when George cared for him at Little Ted's Nursery, is now 13. This week, after hearing news of her release, he asked his parents: 'Is the bad lady coming back?'
His parents are still unsure whether the youngest of their three children was among those abused and photographed by George. She has always refused to reveal her victims' names — their faces did not appear in the images she made — leaving every parent who left a child in her care facing the terrible possibility that their daughter or son was among them.
The former nursery worker swapped photographs of the abuse with other paedophiles she met online
'If she was sorry for what she'd done, she'd name them and put us all out of this misery of not knowing,' says the boy's 42-year-old father. 'How can she claim to be rehabilitated if she's not remorseful?'
Even members of her family, who have asked to remain anonymous, told the Mail this week that in their opinion she was better off staying in prison.
'It might have been easier just to lock her up and throw away the key,' said one relative. 'She's clearly not a decent member of society. Can she ever be one again? I don't think so.'
Another said: 'There are so many people down here who feel very strongly about what she did, it's no wonder they are stopping her coming back to Devon. It's probably safer for her in prison — and I'm not sure she has even served enough time for what she did.'
The mother of a boy cared for by George still vividly recalls the day in June 2009 when she arrived at nursery with her toddler son and found it cordoned off by police. News quickly spread that one of the nursery staff had been arrested on suspicion of child abuse.
At an emergency meeting in a church hall the next day, the atmosphere became hysterical as police tried to establish which of the children might have been among George's victims.
'They asked us if any of our children had distinctive birthmarks or scars or anything that might identify them,' she says. 'Most of them, like ours, didn't. It was impossible to know who was in the photos.'
While she and her husband gently questioned their son, trying to find out if anyone had harmed him, he was too young to understand what was going on.
'He was a happy child and you just had to hope nothing had happened to him.'
Today, she says, her teenage son knows who George is, that 'the horrible lady' was in prison for abusing children and that he once attended the nursery where she worked, but he has never asked his parents directly whether he was one of those she targeted.
'He always moaned about going to nursery,' says the mother, 'and of course now I feel terribly guilty about that. Once, when were on the way there, he kept saying his leg hurt and I thought he was just making it up. Now we will never know if there was a more sinister reason.'
One incident in particular is still painfully etched on her mind.
George, who had been married for more than 20 years at the time she was arrested, took 124 obscene images of children on her mobile during a six-month period
'I'd arrived to pick him up and he'd wet himself. Vanessa George asked if I wanted her to change him into his spare clothes before I took him home. I said yes.'
She finds it torturous now to think of her son lying on the changing mat where George abused many of her tiny young victims, sexually assaulting them with toothbrushes, crayons and even a plastic golf club.
It is this poisonous legacy of uncertainty, says the mother, that makes her and other parents certain George is not fit to be released from prison.
George, who had been married for more than 20 years at the time she was arrested, took 124 obscene images of children on her mobile during a six-month period. She shared them with two other paedophiles she met on the internet — Colin Blanchard, who was the lynchpin of the group, and Angela Allen.
The trio, who had never met in person until they appeared in the dock together, egged each other on to abuse children and were only caught when one of Blanchard's business colleagues came across the explicit images on his computer.
In court, where George pleaded guilty to seven sexual assaults on young children and six counts of making and distributing indecent images of children, her barrister claimed Blanchard had encouraged her to commit the abuse.sonos sonos One (Gen 2) - Voice Controlled Smart Speaker with Amazon Alexa Built-in - Black read more
That claim was rejected by Mr Justice Royce, who said: 'She is not a child. This