A Wicked Lie
Kelly’s precious time with her newborn baby was violently cut short…
As the sonographer moved the cursor around my jellied tummy, a grainy outline appeared on the monitor and I was in awe.
‘There’s your baby,’ she said. ‘And a strong heartbeat.’
My boyfriend, Ben Roach, 23, squeezed my hand, beaming. ‘We’re keeping it,’ he whispered. I cried tears of happiness. We hadn’t planned on starting a family so soon.
I’d panicked when I discovered I was pregnant.
‘What are we going to do?’ I sobbed to Ben so worried.
‘We’ll work it out,’ he soothed, stroking my hair.
Neither of us had secure jobs so the thought of having a baby was terrifying.
But as I saw Ben’s face light up at the 12-week scan, I knew that we’d manage somehow.
We had been together for three years after meeting on a night out.
I knew that Ben had a bit of a dodgy past and had spent a short time in prison. I wasn’t sure exactly what for, but I knew it was something drug-related.
But now he was on the straight and narrow and we were excited about being parents.
At the 20-week scan, we were over-the-moon to find out we were expecting a little girl.
We rushed out and spent every last penny spoiling our first-born.
Our daughter was a few days late and I couldn’t wait to meet her.
Finally, contractions started and after hours of agonising labour, baby Roxie-jo finally arrived. She was so worth it. ‘She’s beautiful,’ Ben gushed, gently kissing her forehead.
My nan offered us a house and we leapt at the chance to have our own home.
Ben and I quickly settled into being parents. Dirty nappy changes, sleepless nights and early morning feeds didn’t bother us and I loved how people cooed over her.
Roxie-jo was almost a month old when I went to spend the day with my parents, Wendy and Andrew Hopkins.
When I got home, Roxie-jo was all bunged up and full of cold.
‘I’ll go to the shops to get her some medicine,’ I said.
It was only the second time Ben was left to look after her by himself, but he was a devoted dad.
When I returned home, just twenty minutes later, I found paramedics rushing to the door.
My stomach lurched.
We tried to give her everything
‘What’s going on?’ I cried, sprinting into the house. Ben was pale and deadly quiet. I could see the fear in his eyes. Suddenly I saw my beautiful Roxie-jo.
She was floppy and the colour had drained from her.
‘She just stopped breathing,’ Ben stammered.
I rushed to the kitchen sink and threw up.
I climbed into the ambulance with Roxie-jo and we were rushed to hospital, while Ben followed behind us.
A team of doctors and nurses battled to save our little girl.
Roxie-jo looked so fragile hooked up to all those tubes, and her condition deteriorated rapidly.
She was taken to intensive care. Social services and police had been called and were at the hospital, but all I cared about was my baby. ‘This can’t be happening,’ I thought, desperate to wake up from the nightmare. But it was real. In the middle of the night, we were told there was nothing they could do. I collapsed and suffered a terrible panic attack. Roxie-jo clung on long enough for us to say goodbye. I cradled her in my arms as she passed away. She was just 28 days old when she died. It was almost as if she was just sleeping and would wake up at any minute. We didn’t want to let go. When Ben and I left the hospital, we knew we couldn’t return home as our house would have been full of memories, so we stayed with my parents for a few nights.
‘This is my fault,’ I sobbed. ‘I should have taken her to the doctors straight away. I knew she wasn’t well.’ Ben pulled me in close. ‘No one could have known,’ he whispered. Two days later, we were both called to the police station for questioning. I was then told that Roxie-jo’s death was being treated as suspicious. But in my grief, I assumed they would quickly realise that they were mistaken. But two weeks later, police arrested Ben. Only then did I realise they suspected him of hurting our daughter. ‘No!’ I cried, refusing to believe it. When he returned at 6pm that evening, he took me upstairs for a talk. ‘I dropped her,’ he blurted out. I’m so sorry.’ He said it was an accident and that he had quickly picked her back up. As she cried and struggled for breath, he’d rocked her back and forth. It was then that she’d gone floppy and her hands and feet turned blue. I was hysterical. ‘Why did you lie?’ I screamed. ‘If you had told the truth from the beginning, they might have treated her differently and saved her!’
I couldn’t even look at him after that, so Ben went to stay at his mum’s house that night.
Although he’d lied, I still thought that Roxie-jo’s death had been a tragic accident. But Ben was still lying.
Experts said that Roxie-jo’s injuries were the result of nonaccidental head injuries - shaken baby syndrome.
Ben was charged with manslaughter. My world collapsed. Due to extensive medical examinations, it was two years before I could bury Roxie-jo, but I made sure her funeral was fit for a princess. I had a ceremony to have Roxie-jo blessed and changed her name.
She no longer had Ben’s surname, and I removed the ‘Jo’, which was after Ben’s mum.
When the case finally came to Plymouth Crown Court in May 2013, I sat through it all.
Mum and Dad were with me everday for support.
The post-mortem results revealed Roxie’s injuries could have been in line with three incidents:
If she was dropped from the first floor banister, if someone had fallen down the stairs with her in their arms and launched her at the wall at the bottom, or in a car crash hitting the central reservation on the motorway while doing 70mph.
The jury found Ben guilty after a two-week trial.
The judge said; ‘You lost your temper and your self-control, and committed a serious unlawful act on a helpless and vulnerable baby who in consequence lost her life.’
Ben was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Since losing Roxie, I’ve found life a struggle, having to wait over two years for a funeral and to be able to grieve properly.
I don’t think Ben realises how much he destroyed my life.
It’s the not knowing and the endless unanswered questions about Roxie’s final moments - all the whys, the hows, and the what ifs.
But now, with the closure of both her funeral and the court case, I can move on with my life, my daughter can now rest in peace, and justice has been served. All I have left of my precious daughter is memories, but I will cherish those for the rest of my life.
And I promise her that I will always be her proud mum.
It was a living nightmare for me
Ben wanted to be a dad
She made me so proud
Kelly Patey, 27, Plymouth
How could he hurt her? Ben lost his temper
Dad Andrew was an amazing support throughout the trial