Slashed & bitten in front of her tot
as my girl lay dying, what horrors had my granddaughter witnessed?
Shuffling from one foot to the other, I sighed heavily.
‘What’s taking her so long?’ I grumbled, impatiently picking at the label on the wine I’d bought.
My hubby Steve, 46, and I were waiting on our daughter Katrina’s doorstep.
‘Probably seeing to the little one,’ Steve reasoned.
Louise, our granddaughter, was just 21 months old.
Katrina, 19, had had her young, but she was an amazing mum.
And that evening, in March 2017, we’d been invited over to meet Katrina’s new boyfriend, Dylan Harries, then 21.
They’d been dating for two months, after meeting through a friend.
‘He’s great with Louise,’ Katrina had told us. Gushed about how caring he was.
So we couldn’t wait to meet the man who had our daughter besotted.
Seconds later, Katrina finally answered.
Only, it wasn’t the usual smiley, bubbly face that greeted us. Tired eyes, dirty clothes, a gabbling Louise on her hip, Katrina didn’t look herself.
‘All right, love?’ I frowned, sharing a concerned look with Steve. ‘Fine, Mum,’ she smiled. ‘Just not sleeping much.’
Dylan was sitting on the sofa in the living room.
‘Lovely to meet you,’ I smiled, while Steve shot out his hand to shake Dylan’s.
Only, he avoided eye contact.
Rude, I thought. Still, we tried to make small talk about the weather, work...
But Dylan didn’t seem remotely interested.
As we chatted, he just watched Katrina like a hawk.
Steve and I had been desperate to like him.
And we were Katrina’s parents, after all. Surely he should be going out of his way to impress us?
Plus, we’d expected a loved-up couple in their honeymoon period.
But this was the opposite – you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife.
‘How’s little Louise?’ Steve eventually asked, breaking a lingering, awkward silence.
But suddenly Dylan lunged across the room.
Grabbing Katrina’s throat, he pinned her to the sofa.
‘What on earth?’ I cried, jumping back with fright.
‘B*tch!’ he growled, gripping tighter on Katrina’s neck.
As she gasped for air, Steve desperately tried to pull Dylan off.
In shock, I realised Louise was in the corner of the room.
Cowering, crying for her mum.
Eventually, Steve managed to wrestle Dylan off.
Katrina was holding her throat, spluttering, tears streaming down her face.
I ran over, held her in my arms.
‘What the hell was that about?’ Steve yelled, completely furious.
We waited for an apology, or some sort of explanation. There wasn’t one. Dylan just walked to the wall, threw a punch so hard it left a blood-stained hole.
I gasped and picked up Louise, covering her eyes.
‘Clean it up,’ Dylan spat at Katrina. ‘And bandage me up, too.’
Stunned into silence, neither Steve or I could believe this was happening.
Who was this monster?
‘Get out!’ Katrina screamed. ‘We’re done.’
Dylan turned and left, slamming the door behind him.
Tears filled my eyes as I checked Katrina for bruises.
‘Are you OK?’ I asked, stroking her hair. ‘I think so,’ she wheezed. Asking whether he’d attacked her before, she shook her head. But I couldn’t quite believe it. ‘Please come home with
Neither of us could believe this was happening
Her house was cordoned off, police everywhere
us,’ I begged our daughter.
Holding Louise tight, Katrina promised she’d be fine.
‘I’m well shot of him,’ she said.
We pleaded with her to press charges.
But she refused, saying she wanted to put the ordeal behind her.
In the end, we’d no choice but to leave her there, but walking away was agony.
A week later, in April 2017, Katrina seemed back to her normal, bubbly self.
Dylan was long gone and she’d organised a fun night out with her sister Sheree, then 25.
I was so relieved.
Just what she needs,
I thought to myself.
The next day, I texted to ask how Katrina’s night was. Only, she didn’t reply. She didn’t pick up when I called, either.
I texted Sheree – she hadn’t heard from Katrina that day.
It’s not like her,
I worried. She was always in touch.
‘I need to know she’s OK,’ I told Steve as we drove over to hers that evening.
Only, turning on to her road, blood thumped in my ears.
Her house was cordoned off, there were police and ambulances everywhere, sirens flashing.
Jumping out, I ran toward the house.
‘Sorry, this is a crime scene,’ an officer said to us.
‘It’s my daughter’s house,’ I cried.
‘Then you need to get to hospital,’ he said. ‘She’s been stabbed.’ I froze. ‘Stabbed?’ I whimpered. ‘A child was taken to hospital with her. She was covered in blood, too,’ the officer added.
Louise! I gasped, praying my girls would be OK.
At Morriston Hospital, doctors surrounded Katrina as she lay in Intensive Care.
Bloody, unrecognisable – on the brink of death.
‘She has wounds to her chest, arms, legs and eyes,’ a doctor explained.
Katrina had been stabbed in the eyes and liver, and her throat slashed, cutting her windpipe.
She’d lost so much blood, she’d gone into cardiac arrest.
Paramedics had restarted her heart before she’d had emergency surgery to repair life-threatening injuries to her liver and neck.
I crumpled to the floor, utterly devastated.
Who could do this to my gorgeous girl? I thought.
We were taken to see Louise, who was being cared for by social workers.
Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt, but she was very frightened.
As we kept a bedside vigil with Katrina, the police arrived with news.
‘We’ve made an arrest,’ an officer said. ‘Who?’ Steve barked, furious. But, of course, neither of us were surprised by the officer’s answer...
Officers said that Harries was denying everything.
But after the explosive violence we’d witnessed a week earlier, we knew he was lying.
We told the police about what we’d seen.
It was too much to bear. For six days, we didn’t leave Katrina’s side, living out our worst nightmare.
Then our world fell apart completely...
Katrina’s brain had been starved of oxygen for too long.
She died of catastrophic, irreversible brain injuries.
Saying goodbye was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
‘Mum loves you,’ I sniffled, kissing her forehead.
Steve and Sheree were distraught too.
How could we ever explain to Louise? And what had that poor tot seen?
Louise’s father wasn’t around, so we took her in.
Dylan was charged with murder, held in custody.
A few weeks later, hundreds of mourners came to Katrina’s funeral, testament to how loved she was.
But I couldn’t believe she was gone.
Steve and I struggled on, for Louise’s sake.
The poor thing would cry and cry. Scream ‘no’ at the mention of her mum’s name.
In October last year, Dylan Harries, 22, appeared at Swansea Crown Court. He still denied murder. Jurors heard how he’d gone to Katrina’s after he’d heard she’d kissed someone else during a night out.
He’d been caught on CCTV strolling to her house. It showed him pulling at the sleeve of his top – prosecutors claimed he’d hidden a knife in his clothing.
Then he’d launched the horrific attack in front of Louise. Slashing Katrina so violently that blood spattered over my terrified granddaughter. So harrowing. Katrina had been bitten on the arm but also had defensive marks showing that she’d tried to fight back. Harries claimed he’d found Katrina on the kitchen floor, already wounded, when he’d arrived at her house. But his DNA was found on the knife. The jury found him guilty and he was jailed for life, told he’d serve a minimum of 27 years. Some justice – but it’d never bring Katrina back. Steve and I have custody of Louise, now 3. Having witnessed her mum’s murder, my heart breaks for her. It was tough at first. But despite the horrors she saw, she’s thriving. ‘Where’s Mum?’ she asks sometimes. And I hope she doesn’t remember anything. When she’s older, we’ll tell her the truth, but, for now, we want to protect her. Give her the best life possible. It’s what her mum would’ve wanted.
My lovely daughter – a mum herself Our smiley, bubbly girl
Harries is caught on CCTV, armed with a knife On his way over...