Griev­ing dad writes

Matamata Chronicle - - Front Page -

To fam­ily and friends, He­len Meads was a bright, vi­va­cious woman, a de­voted mother and a pas­sion­ate horse breeder.

More than two years af­ter her mur­der, fa­ther David White still can’t be­lieve she is gone.

‘‘ Even to­day I catch my­self think­ing she’ll walk in here, blow­ing a rasp­berry or giv­ing me a cheeky com­ment,’’ he said.

‘‘We were so used to hav­ing He­len around, it’s hard to get that out of your sys­tem.’’

Mr White launched his book HE­LEN – The He­len Meads Tragedy on Mon­day at an event hosted by Women’s Refuge and the White Rib­bon cam­paign in Welling­ton.

The book de­tails the days lead­ing up to and af­ter He­len’s mur­der, her hus­band Greg Meads’ trial and the Whites’ bat­tle to keep him from con­tact­ing his 11-year-old daugh­ter Sa­man­tha.

Mr White also re­veals angst over his fail­ure to get He­len away from her abu­sive hus­band.

Mrs Meads, 42, was shot in the throat at close range by her hus­band at the cou­ple’s Mata­mata sta­bles in Septem­ber 2009.

He was later found guilty of mur­der by a High Court jury and sen­tenced to life in prison with a min­i­mum non-pa­role pe­riod of 11 years.

Writ­ing the book was a trau­matic process Mr White, 67, fre­quently con­tem­plated not fin­ish­ing.

‘‘ It’s a won­der my com­puter didn’t short cir­cuit be­cause I cried so much when writ­ing parts of the book. The process was as trau­matic as the day I went to the po­lice sta­tion to iden­tify He­len’s body. ‘‘It’s pro­longed our grief.’’ Meads’ mother Janet ( Jenny), said she knew noth­ing of the book launch and had no con­tact with the Whites.

‘‘I didn’t even know there was a book on the way or any­thing and I’m re­ally not in­ter­ested in any­thing David White does. I don’t have any­thing to do with them. We could do with­out this.’’

Mr White be­gan writ­ing the book in 2009 but found the task over­whelm­ing. A year later he picked it up again, af­ter ap­pear­ing on tele­vi­sion to talk about do­mes­tic vi­o­lence.

‘‘I talked about how a fa­ther like my­self failed to see the signs. The re­sponse was amaz­ing. I had all these women write to me to share their sto­ries of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. It was fright­en­ing, their sto­ries were so sim­i­lar and re­in­forced ev­ery­thing wasn’t right. Later, half a dozen women, rang­ing from a col­lege stu­dent to a bank man­ager, vis­ited me in Mata­mata to share their sto­ries.’’

It was their courage which drove him to fin­ish the book.

‘‘My hope is this book raises aware­ness about do­mes­tic vi­o­lence. Fa­thers and fam­i­lies need to start see­ing the signs of abuse and women need to heed what hap­pened to He­len or be­come an­other statis­tic.’’

The book dis­cusses the years of abuse He­len en­dured at Meads’ hands, in­clud­ing an as­sault in 2008 in which he crushed her lar­ynx and left her body bruised and blood­ied.

Mr White claims not to hate Meads, in­stead choos­ing to fo­cus his en­er­gies on his grand­daugh­ter Sa­man­tha.

‘‘ I don’t think any­thing of Meads. It’s too hard to think about what he’s done and the work he’s left us to do. But we’re de­ter­mined to se­cure Sam’s fu­ture and to give her the pat­tern of life with the peo­ple she knows.’’

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