Woman’s Day (Australia)
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...
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’