‘Dad’s try­ing to kill me!’ I couldn’t save my girl

My daugh­ter’s des­per­ate 999 call will haunt me for life Kiera Smith, 35

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Once in a while, his tem­per got the bet­ter of him...

Wad­dling be­hind the bar, my back ached and my feet throbbed.

Seven months preg­nant with my sec­ond child, I was ready for my shift pulling pints to end.

But then a fa­mil­iar face ap­peared and all my aches melted away.

‘Come sit down for a minute,’ he smiled, pulling out a chair.

‘Thanks, love,’ I said, eas­ing my­self down.

It was 2002, and Daniel and I worked for the same river­cruise com­pany.

He was a cap­tain, and I was work­ing be­hind the bar.

I was sin­gle but al­ready preg­nant when we’d met that sum­mer, so I hadn’t ex­pected ro­mance to blos­som.

But now it had, ev­ery­thing was slot­ting into place.

Daniel looked af­ter me and doted on my 18-month-old daugh­ter Holly, treat­ing her to ice cream at the park.

And when baby So­phie ar­rived in Au­gust 2002, Daniel was a god­send.

We went from strength to strength, our lit­tle boy Jack ar­riv­ing in Au­gust 2004, then twins Emma and Ben in Fe­bru­ary 2010.

Daniel was a lov­ing, fun dad, tak­ing the kids to theme parks or run­ning around the gar­den with them. Life plod­ded along. Ex­cept... Once in a while, Daniel’s tem­per got the bet­ter of him.

He’d shout and swear, scare us all.

Sadly, over time, it got worse.

And by Au­gust 2015, he was no longer the same man I’d fallen in love with.

‘It’s over,’ I told Daniel.

‘Fine,’ he huffed, storm­ing out.

We kept it civil for the kids’ sake, and he mes­saged them ev­ery day.

In Novem­ber that year, Daniel came by, de­mand­ing to see Jack. His anger was out of con­trol.

I said, ‘You need to calm down first.’ Daniel glared at me silently. Then he shoved me in­side the house, held a knife to my throat and grabbed my neck­lace, a sil­ver cross.

‘God’s not go­ing to help you now,’ he snarled, rip­ping it off.

Pinned against the wall, I was pet­ri­fied.

Luck­ily, some­body called the po­lice and Daniel was ar­rested.

At the Mag­is­trates Court, Daniel Dare, 37, was given a re­strain­ing order.

Breath­ing a sigh of relief, I hoped this would be the fresh start the kids and I des­per­ately needed. Daniel had other ideas. Des­per­ate to win me back, he sneaked into my house at night and did all of the wash­ing-up and clean­ing.

He reck­oned it was like that fairy­tale about the elves and the shoe­maker.

But I wasn’t im­pressed.

‘You need to stop com­ing over,’ I warned. He just shrugged, and mum­bled, ‘It’s my house.’

It was only when I started dat­ing some­one else that Daniel fi­nally got the mes­sage.

He kept in touch with the kids – and de­spite his faults, they missed him lots. I didn’t have the heart to stop them see­ing him.

But on the evening of 14 Au­gust 2017, Daniel came back to the house.

‘Can I stay here tonight?’ he asked me.

‘No, go to a ho­tel or your par­ents,’ I said firmly, hop­ing that would be the end of it.

But at 1am, So­phie, 13, came into my bed­room, vis­i­bly shaken.

‘It’s Daniel,’ she whis­pered. ‘He’s out­side again.’

‘What does he want now?’ I groaned.

Stand­ing at the door, Daniel de­manded cash for the birth­day present he’d bought for Jack weeks ear­lier.

I thought he was be­ing ridicu­lous, but I handed over the cash, closed the door and went back to bed. Only... A cou­ple of

I looked on in hor­ror as he pulled out his lighter

hours later, I awoke with a start.

There was a heavy pound­ing sound com­ing from down­stairs.

Rush­ing down, I glimpsed a shadow through the win­dow in the door and sti­fled a scream.

It was Daniel, and he was smash­ing his way into the house with a sledge­ham­mer. Like some­thing from a hor­ror film!

I froze in ter­ror when I spot­ted the petrol can­is­ter in his hand.

‘Are you go­ing to let me stay now?’ he growled through the splin­tered wood.

Though my legs were shak­ing, I yelled, ‘You’re not stay­ing!’

With that, Daniel backed away...only to pour petrol all over my brother’s boat in the drive.

My heart was ham­mer­ing as the pun­gent smell of petrol fumes came waft­ing through the bro­ken door. One wrong move, and we’ll all go up in flames. I charged up­stairs, grab­bing Jack, Emma and Ben, while So­phie di­alled 999. Holly wasn’t home that night.

‘My dad’s tip­ping petrol all over the house and try­ing to kill me and my mum,’ So­phie screamed into the phone.

Bundling Jack, Emma and Ben down­stairs, we raced out the back door, into the gar­den. Daniel had burst through the front door, and now he barged to­wards us.

‘Who’s she on the phone to?’ he bel­lowed, point­ing at So­phie.

Then he took the petrol can and tipped it all over him­self.

The kids were ter­ri­fied, scream­ing.

Then I looked on in hor­ror as Daniel put a cig­a­rette in his mouth, and pulled a lighter out of his pocket...

‘I’m go­ing to give you a show,’ he sneered.

The world seemed to slow down as he went to light his fag.

I could see it un­fold­ing. A spark, a flame,

and an in­ferno...

Our home snatched away, our lives gone.

And there was noth­ing I could do to stop it.

Just then, sirens blared out­side...the po­lice. In the nick of time!

Daniel dropped the petrol can and clam­bered over the gar­den fence.

The four of us col­lapsed into a heap, sob­bing as the po­lice burst into the gar­den.

We were es­corted to the po­lice sta­tion – and two hours later, there was news.

While we’d been giv­ing our state­ments, Daniel had been ar­rested at my house.

‘Thank God,’ I sighed, pulling the kids closer.

In June this year, Daniel Dare, 40, was sen­tenced to six years in prison for threat­en­ing to kill and threat­en­ing to dam­age or de­stroy prop­erty.

He was also given a new re­strain­ing order, which pre­vented him from hav­ing any con­tact with me or the chil­dren for 10 years.

Giv­ing ev­i­dence from be­hind a screen at the trial wasn’t easy, but it was worth it to keep my fam­ily safe.

So­phie and Jack bravely tes­ti­fied via video link, too.

As proud as I was of them, I was fu­ri­ous that Daniel was putting them through it. I still am. I’m still suf­fer­ing from some de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety as a re­sult of the ordeal.

I worry that I’ll be haunted by the fear in So­phie’s voice on that 999 call for all time.

He smashed his way in with this sledge­ham­mer

Emer­gency phonecall...

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