What happens when justice isn't just, when you have done no wrong but are punished and left with nothing? Timothy Brown speaks to a Dunedin woman whose only crime was loving the wrong man.

Words fail Mark Jory's estranged wife when she tries to describe the impact of his offending on her family's lives.

"I don't even know the words to use; the deceit - the arrogance. I'm not sure how someone can do this to their family,'' the woman, who only wished to be identified as Jo, says.

"It just disgusts me. It's beyond hard. I don't even know how to explain it to people.''

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For almost a decade, Jory kept an affair hidden from his wife.

A four-day-long dalliance, as she understands it, but one which would have far-reaching consequences for herself and her two daughters for the rest of their lives.

The life the family had built over 30 years, the Wakari house they called home, the financially secured future - all disappeared overnight when Jo received a phone call in September last year.

Jory's mistress - and blackmailer - Sharleen Lynch was in police custody and her mother called Jo and in only a few words tore down the foundations of her life - past and future.

"It was a double life,'' Jo says of her husband's deceit.

"I see him as a professional fraudster."He took everything apart from our three bodies standing on the floor - he took everything.''

Jory answered an online advertisement for sex in 2005 and soon after began caving to Lynch's demands for money - money which bought her silence.

To fund her increasing demands he defrauded insurance companies - throwing away his career - and forged Jo's signature to strip her of her savings and the equity of the family home.

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 Mark Jory in the Dunedin District Court on Thursday. Photo / Staff Photographer
Mark Jory in the Dunedin District Court on Thursday. Photo / Staff Photographer

"The story itself is so out-there, it's so hard to believe I'm in this story,'' Jo says.

"And the stupidity of what they were both doing,'' she says after a pause.

"She played a pretty powerful game but he played it as just as willingly.

"He wanted more in the beginning - he wanted this relationship to go on."He wanted to live in a fantasy world of sex.''

Since being jailed, Jory had written letters to Jo and their daughters.

They are regretful in tone and seem to be an attempt to cast himself as some kind of victim, Jo believes.

"There's only three victims in this story and that's me and my two girls who have had our lives not taken, but stolen off us,'' she says.

"I had no knowledge - I knew nothing.

"Everything around me was made up and false.''

Release from prison "incomprehensible"

To add to her despair, last month she found out Jory would be released from prison this month.

However, it was not someone from within the justice system who informed her, but Jory himself in another letter.

"I'm not even sure how to explain how it makes me feel, to be honest,'' she says.

"Who was going to tell me that my husband was going to be walking the streets?

"He's out after nine months - that's incomprehensible.

"It's someone who has taken my life from me and my girls and no-one has had the decency to inform me.

"When you have had your life stolen from you - without knowledge - the next step, of Mark's release, is really crucial and again I have had no knowledge.''

She had no interest in rekindling their marriage or even seeing him.

"I'm determined to make my life a good life, for my girls, and just keep moving forward,'' she says.

"I don't need him. I'm becoming my own person. I'm now in control of my own life - without any deceit.

"I feel quite empowered.''

She had begun to heal, but would never forgive Jory or Lynch.

"I don't think this is forgivable - I'm going to get on with life. I'm not going to hate - but I'm not going to forgive because he's tipped everything upside down.''

Most difficult was having to leave the family home.

"It was my space. It was the only home I knew. We had been there for nearly 30 years,'' she says.

"I don't even go down that street anymore because it just rips me to pieces.''

Her family's and friends' support has been instrumental in helping her rebuild her life.

Her sister bought a small house, adding to her mortgage, for Jo and her youngest daughter to rent and her mother helped her cultivate a garden - something to call her own.

With their help, she had got out of bed, returned to full-time work and hoped, one day, to own her own home and find love again.

"I have got to enjoy living,'' she says.

"We have got to have a life and enjoy living and treat ourselves because he's not going to take that from me. He's not going to take any more.

"I have done everything in my power to ensure I'm going to survive.''