Killed by her hus­band Friend re­veals texts: ‘I wish I’d acted’

One Aus­tralian wo­man is killed by their part­ner ev­ery week. Last month, Teresa Brad­ford died at the hands of the man she loved. Her best friend re­grets not act­ing on the signs...

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

De­bra Nap­per scrolls through her text mes­sage ex­change with Teresa Brad­ford, her best friend of 30 years. Teresa’s des­per­ate pleas for help are all the more chill­ing af­ter she was stabbed to death by her es­tranged hus­band David Brad­ford in her Gold Coast home last month.

The cou­ple’s four chil­dren were in the house when he killed their mother,, then him­self. But Teresa’s case is not unique. She joins a grim list of 76 Aussie women who have died as a re­sult of vi­o­lence – the ma­jor­ity at the hands of a close loved one – since the start of 2016. “I’ve read over and over those text mes­sages – she told me he’d tried to kill her,” De­bra, 41, tells Wo­man’s Day. “Ev­ery day I wake up and wish I’d done more. We’d been friends since I met her in grade two, and I feel as though I let her down,” she says. Brad­ford, 52, had at­tacked Teresa be­fore. He sav­agely bashed her in Novem­ber last y year,, and p po­lice ar­rested him. He served 44 days in cus­tody on se­ri­ous do­mes­tic vi­o­lence charges.

Recog­nis­ing that the na­ture of his of­fences – which in­cluded stran­gu­la­tion and de­pri­va­tion of lib­erty – are known pre­cur­sors to homicide, po­lice rec­om­mended Brad­ford should not be re­leased. Yet on Jan­uary 12 a mag­is­trate ap­proved his ap­pli­ca­tion for bail. Teresa would be dead in weeks.

“I was driv­ing and heard the news on the ra­dio that said two peo­ple had been found dead in an ap­par­ent mur­der-sui­cide.

When the re­porter said it was in Teresa’s sub­urb, Pim­pama, I froze. I knew it was her – I just knew, knew,” says De­bra, who was one of the first to ar­rive at the bloody scene. “I was pray­ing, ‘Please don’t let this be Teresa.’ “When I turned into her street and saw the po­lice and her house sur­rounded by tape, I slumped in dis­be­lief. I thought about my friend who would’ve put up such a fight – and to learn that her kids found her… ” she trails off. The tragic death of Teresa – a wo­man De­bra de­scribes as onein-a-mil­lion and a kind soul who lived for her kids – has sparked out­rage in the com­mu­nity. There are calls for tougher penal­ties for do­mes­tic vi­o­lence of­fend­ers. “The po­lice and doc­tors were amaz­ingly sup­port­ive,” re­calls De­bra, who ar­rived to be by her friend’s side af­ter she was first a at­tacked in Novem­ber. “She man­aged to have h him charged and was g given some com­fort over C Christ­mas know­ing he was be be­hind bars.” Y Yet lit­tle did any­one kno know it would be Teresa’s last Christ­mas with her prec pre­cious chil­dren. “She was so happy,ha but al­ways lurk­ing was a gen­uine fear he would be re­leas re­leased – the courts have a lot to answ an­swer for,” says De­bra.

“When she got the news he’d been granted bail she went to the au­thor­i­ties and asked to be moved some­where safe.”

A do­mes­tic vi­o­lence sup­port group called DV Con­nect con­tacted Teresa af­ter be­ing re­ferred by po­lice. They of­fered her an emer­gency safe house but Teresa de­clined be­cause she be­lieved a longer-term housing group was about to of­fer her a more per­ma­nent home.

It would mean less dis­rup­tion for the chil­dren, who range in age from eight to 17. It was a self­less de­ci­sion that cost Teresa her life.

De­bra can still re­mem­ber when she met Teresa in the play­ground at Nerang Pri­mary School, on Queens­land’s Gold Coast.

“I shared my sand­wich and asked her, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ She said, ‘A teacher or a nurse,’” she re­calls.

Teresa did grow up to be­come a teacher, but when Brad­ford suf­fered a se­ries of strokes she changed to study nurs­ing. “She wanted to be con­fi­dent she could care for him. That was Teresa – des­tined to al­ways self­lessly look af­ter every­one,” says De­bra.

She knew Teresa’s re­la­tion­ship with Brad­ford wasn’t al­ways as rosy as she led the world to be­lieve – and she’ll never for­give her­self for not do­ing more to save her friend. Though the pain of that knowl­edge is “un­bear­able”, she’s now com­mit­ted to help­ing other vic­tims.

“My fo­cus now is those kids and mak­ing sure no other fam­ily ever has to go through what they’ve en­dured – it’s the least I can do for my friend,” says De­bra, who’s joined the na­tional call-out for new leg­is­la­tion to stamp out do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

She be­lieves we need stricter penal­ties and the in­tro­duc­tion of ef­fec­tive track­ing de­vices to be worn by the per­pe­tra­tor.

“We need to stop talk­ing about the scourge of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, get off our butts and do some­thing about it be­fore there’s an­other sense­less vic­tim. It might be too late for our beau­ti­ful Teresa but it’s not too late for oth­ers.”

If you or some­one you know is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, call 1800 Re­spect on 1800 737 732.

‘We need to do some­thing about it, be­fore there’s an­other vic­tim’

Af­ter mur­der­ing Teresa, Brad­ford turned the knife on him­self.

Teresa’s kids were her pride and joy. De­bra is heart­bro­ken at the loss of her friend, and urg­ing other women to speak out.

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