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I'M BIG BROKE; Ex-wife's fury as snooker ace Virgo cuts payments.

Byline: DENIS CASSIDY

THE angry ex-wife of TV's Big Break snooker ace John Virgo has accused him of leaving her PENNILESS.

Distraught Avril Virgo, 58, says she faces being EVICTED from her home after he stopped paying her pounds 1,200 a month maintenance.

And she claims she is begging off friends and neighbours to make ends meet.

Avril was stunned when Virgo, 57, wrote to her in July saying he was seeking a "major reduction" in payments. He added: "I'm afraid the well is dry."

But Avril, who claims she guided Virgo to fame and fortune, said bitterly: "John has earned more than pounds 6million and I know because I used to run his business affairs.

"How can he now claim he can't afford to pay me what a court says I should be receiving for life? I spent 18 years turning him into a superstar and now he's left me destitute. Is it any wonder I'm bitter?"

Avril once shared a champagne lifestyle with the snooker champ that included a luxury MANSION in the Surrey stockbroker belt, five SERVANTS, a LUXURY home in France, VINTAGE cars and a top RACEHORSE.

But Virgo walked out on her and their daughter, then aged four, in 1991 after falling for another woman. He and Avril finally divorced three years ago and since then she has been living in a two-bedroom cottage in Pirbright, Surrey.

She says the pounds 824 a month mortgage has gone unpaid for three months and she is living in fear of being made homeless.

Bearded Virgo became a TV favourite while starring with comic Jim Davidson on BBC1's game show Big Break.

But Avril said: "I was the one who really turned him into a star.

"I bought his clothes, booked his gigs and pushed and promoted him until he became a household name and the busiest player on the circuit.

"Not bad for a clerk from Salford who had nothing but the clothes he stood up in when I took him in hand."

When The People approached Virgo at his home in Sheffield yesterday, he said: "I'm not interested. I have no comment to make about that woman whatsoever.

"I have got a million witnesses who will tell you the woman is very vindictive.

"Unfortunately I've had to suffer these slings and arrows for the last 14 years and there is nothing I can do about it."

CAPTION(S):

BITTER: Ex-wife Avril; HOME: French manor; FAME: Snooker's Virgo; LETTER: Handwritten note in which Virgo says he can't pay as "the well is dry"
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Nov 2, 2003
Words:427
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