Slashed & bit­ten in front of her tot

as my girl lay dy­ing, what hor­rors had my grand­daugh­ter wit­nessed?

Chat - - Contents - By Mandy Si­mon, from Llanelli

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.

Hor­ri­fy­ing.

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...

‘Dy­lan Har­ries.’

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.

Heart­break­ing.

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.

Tem­per: Har­ries

My lovely daugh­ter – a mum her­self Our smi­ley, bub­bly girl

Har­ries is caught on CCTV, armed with a knife On his way over...

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