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Fox attack parents speak out over 'freak occurrence'

The parents whose sleeping baby twins were attacked by a fox said it was probably a "freak occurrence" but they are still too frightened to leave doors and windows open.

In a television interview Pauline and Nick Koupparis describe flesh falling off nine-month-old Isabella's arm as if "it had been through a cheese grater" and Lola's face covered in blood after the attack.

The couple gave their first detailed interview about the attack as part of a documentary, The Fox Attack Twins, which will be shown on BBC One tonight.

They said they agreed to be filmed by Leopard Films, of which Mr Koupparis is head of finance, to make sure people knew the truth.

Some people openly doubted the couple's story about how the twins came to be injured and Mrs Koupparis describes her distress at receiving Facebook messages accusing her of lying.

The couple, who also have a five-year-old son Max, say they have not owned a pet cat or dog for almost five years and did not encourage foxes to visit their garden.

Mr and Mrs Koupparis said they put the twins in their separate cots upstairs after having a barbecue supper on June 5.

Leftover food was cooling on the kitchen table and they had left the patio doors open as it was a warm evening.

Just before 10pm they heard one of the twins crying through the baby monitor and Mrs Koupparis went upstairs and found the twins bleeding and a fox at the end of Lola's cot.

The couple said the animal stood its ground and only ran off when Mr Koupparis threw something at it as he held Isabella in his arms, blood seeping through her sleepsuit.

He then called 999 and said he had to keep repeating that a fox had attacked his children because the emergency services operator could not believe what they were hearing.

The twins were both badly injured and the couple say they were warned this week that the scars may be permanent.

Isabella suffered terrible arm injuries, the extent of which was only apparent when her clothing was removed.

Mrs Koupparis said: "Her arm was open and bits of her flesh were literally like just dropping on to Nick's leg.

"It looked like it had been through a cheese grater."

Lola's face was bitten and her eyelid badly torn.

Both girls were taken to the Royal London Hospital where they were given antibiotics and plastic surgeons warned they needed urgent treatment.

During surgery, Isabella experienced respiratory complications and she was transferred to Great Ormond Street Hospital's intensive care unit.

When Lola was released from hospital, six days after the attack, the family's joy was tempered with fears for Isabella, although she was well enough to be transferred back to the Royal London Hospital.

Mrs Koupparis said: "Obviously Lola came home first and it was incredible. But at the same time I was thinking, 'well I just want them both' and I was sort of thinking to myself 'what would I do if there was only one twin that came home and how could I ever deal with that as a mother?"'

Six days later, Isabella was well enough to go home.

The twins are still undergoing a course of rabies injections and on Tuesday their parents were told Isabella - whose left arm and hand were severely injured - will need to see specialists until her late teens.

In the two weeks following the attack, six foxes were trapped in the family's garden and humanely destroyed but the family say they were not prepared for the furious reaction.

Mrs Koupparis said: "We had a police guard on the front door 24/7 for about three or four days and a panic alarm installed in the house because there were lots of things on websites and the tyres had been slashed on the side of the street, and they were just concerned that it could potentially be animal activists."

Mrs Koupparis said she felt sick when police officers told her a fox tried to get in the house as their daughters were being treated by the ambulance crew.

She is now trying to get back to a normal life but admitted she is nervous about leaving doors or windows open.

"When the girls are here I don't open the doors and it's a bit of a panic every night, 'Have you locked the door? Are the windows all closed?' I'm quite frightened of keeping the doors open now," she said.

Mr Koupparis added: "I think I appreciate it's a freak occurrence that may happen again but the likelihood of it happening to us again is zero.

"But it probably is the same feeling people have when they've been burgled. They don't want to go back and see their house has been violated and we feel that our family unit has been violated."

Mrs Koupparis added: "I think it's definitely made us appreciate what we have and how lucky we've been. Our girls are safe, they'll recover from it."

:: The Fox Attack Twins: A BBC One Special will be broadcast at 7pm today.